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Carr Valley Cheese Glacier Wildfire Blue

As previously seen this season, I’ve been trolling for new things, both for review purposes and for just plain eating. This year, despite everything, summer has been a good time for new products, especially for me, certified heatseeker. On that same vibe, comes something I never thought I’d see: a spicy blue cheese. Now, don’t look at me that way, I’ve been a fan of the blue since the early 90s, when Wishbone was pushing salad dressings hardcore. I grew up in a household where cuisine was primarily Puerto Rican, through the eyes of a Trinidadian mother, who cooked for the family, to my stepfather’s tastes. Salads, made of iceberg and beefsteak tomato would sometimes be adorned with cucumber. I remember young me moving from the thousand island I was accustomed to(never, ever again, please), to the more refined palate of blue cheese my mother regularly ate.

Ever since then, blue cheese was my dressing of choice. It grossed out my friends, it still does, and when I got older, gorgonzola took over. Young me got on that stinky cheese train early, and when I started my current job and got intimate with more cheeses, I went from being just a heatseeker to also being a stinky cheese boy.

Picking this up, it didn’t smell particularly pungent through its sealed plastic wrapping and foil. Slicing it open, not much, barring that and opening the thing, near nothing. I wasn’t exactly enthused. It’s just not pungent, despite being a blue. The wildfire name refers to peperoncinos added in as a final ingredient, and when I saw that after having purchased it, I stared at the flames on the package and felt cheated.

However, cheated as I felt, I keep going. This wedge is speckled with blue, with deep veins running through with rich deposits. Seriously, this is so littered with blue, if it was a normal cheese I’d probably die from eating it. For a blue though? Let’s go.

The bottom, technically top of the cheese doesn’t have any blue running through it, but has a few scattered pepper seeds here in there, meaning it’s likely aged, flipped, and then wrapped to present the blue side.

The cheese is firm, chalky, salty… salty… with a bite at the end. It’s an eligible crumbler, smushes between the fingers but it isn’t overly delicate. I did find it to have a creeping building heat, but not much. With so little ingredient wise here(milk, bacteria and enzymes, salt, peppers) the salt comes through more than anything else. Seriously, this is the second time I’ve described food as salt and fire. Ack.

Despite that, each bite was satisfying. The salt diminished in the mouth, and the creeping fire of the peperoncino lingered and fizzled. The chalky texture diminished after each swallow with no aftertaste of film. The salt inside isn’t crystallized but it does hide in pockets. This is a sometimes salty, sometimes not salty cheese. Surprise salt.

I used this in conjunction with sour cream, mayo, red wine vinegar and lemon juice to make a little bit of blue cheese dressing, topped a wedge of iceberg lettuce with my homemade dressing, a little more of the crumbled cheese and bacon and had a great dinner. I added pepper to my dressing, I did not add salt, I didn’t dare.

Found at Trader Joe’s.

September 2, 2020

St. Albans Aged Cows’ Milk Cheese

St. Albans comes in a tiny clay crock, which is super cute and very convenient for the would-be fonduer. It even suggests popping this in the oven for a molten, melty treat. I found these little pucks stacked up in a corner of the cheese cold case in Trader Joe’s. Cheese is a luxury purchase for me, I usually grab slices, singles or bags of shreds(I know, shame, shame), a wedge or specialty cheese I usually save to buy to enjoy with friends. If it isn’t obvious, I didn’t grow up eating a lot of cheese. At least, not anything that didn’t in some form of the color yellow, and have the words American in it. On the flip side, this is an aged cows’ milk cheese with a nicely designed label. Welcome to adulthood, I guess.

The smell from the wrapped package is unctuous and deep. Foot-like, but foot-lite, it’s a stinky one, but not anything near levels of stink that might drive a novice cheese aficionado away. For it’s price, $3.99, it’s a definite steal. Combining the value of the crock and a 80 calorie, 3 serving puck of cheese, this is fondue for one. Midsummer? Yeah. I did it, and you can too. It’s worth it.

Out of the oven(400F for 20 minutes, left out on the counter to come to room temp when brought home before heating), this wasn’t molten hot, but gooey, and delicious. I took a bit of video where I tested how much it would stretch but I won’t be posting it because it looks kinda… gross. It smelled mild, and tasted nutty. Nutty, nutty, nutty. Overall, I would describe it as light, mild, delicious and inoffensive. It reformed quickly as I ate dinner, but it’s signature taste, the nutty, milky vibe, that felt fresh and vibrant the whole way through.

Personally, I made dinner in mind with this. Sliced and roasted zucchini and gold potato, with a panko-breaded chicken katsu from a previous dinner reheated in the oven. I will say, that because of its quick return to low viscosity, its thickness didn’t perform as well as I would’ve liked with the zucchini, which fell apart when I tried to dunk anything in about five minutes out.

This was a fun treat, and on some nights I’m thinking of going light and lean, I would definitely try some breaded chicken breast and potatoes with it again.

Found at Trader Joe’s.

August 29, 2020