Although some supermarkets label it so, blue itself isn’t a specific cheese — it’s an entire family, with more than a hundred varieties. "Blue cheeses have a bad reputation for being too strong and salty, but good-quality blue is about more than that," says Thorpe. In reality, blues can range from a crumbly gorgonzola to a creamy brie-like Cambozola, with just a hint of mold, so always opt to buy a hunk (the pre-crumbled varieties tend to be too dry and salty). Blue cheese used to just be that last man standing on the cheese plate, made simply from cow's milk with a funky, natural rind and dotted with blue veins. Nowadays, we're frequently seeing its peppery blue topography counterbalanced with raw whole milk, the acidic tang of goat's milk, or mild sheep's milk cream. Rogue Creamery even makes a blue cheese powder, meant to be used as condiment for eggs, popcorn, and more.
For a much-craved balance of salty and sweet, pair blues with sweeter dessert wines (like Port, Sherry, or rice wine) or a bold chocolate stout. Blue cheese also goes great with fruits; try dried apricots and figs, or blackberries, whose intense flavor melds well with a funky blue cheese.
Appearance: Blue or green veins throughout the interior.
Texture: Anywhere from creamy to crumbly.
Flavor: Strong and sharp, spicy, or salty.
Aroma: Moldy, mushroom, or wet stone.
What to buy: Roquefort, gorgonzola, stilton, Cabrales, bleu de Bresse.