The cheese of the month for October 2020 is: Bleu d’Auvergne

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There is enough going on in this world, close by and far away, to get the blues, big way – we really need all potential antidotes. Cheese helps, says Heinzelcheese… and in case of the blues, it should be bleu. Y’all who immediately wrinkle their nose, because “you know, blue cheese…” – hang on. Some things, when considered and experienced without any preconceptions and prejudices, turn out to be very different than in your imagination and actually not half bad (idiot politicians and certain kinds of virus excluded). Therefore: Bleu d’Auvergne, the gentle, smooth blue from central France.

Auvergne is part of the Massif Central, the volcanic highlands that form the geographical heart of France, with endless mountain pastures, a corresponding number of cows, and five famous cheeses: Forme d’Ambert (also blue), Cantal and Salers, St Nectaire, and this month’s Heinzelcheese candidate. The latter has been protected by an AOC since 1975, though it obviously has a much longer history. The good Auvergnats don’t really like to hear this, but they long tried to get their cheese feet into the success story called Roquefort, produced since ancient times (around Charlemagne, probably earlier) in the Aveyron immediately to the south. However down there it’s all about sheep’s milk, whereas in the Auvergne it rains enough to keep cows. Their milk tastes completely different (more about that at the upcoming Heinzelcheesetalk!), and even after the farmers figured out how to inoculate the fresh white wheels with blue mould cultivated on rye bread, and understood the need to prick them with needles for the mould to grow evenly, even then their cheese was no Roquefort!

Instead theirs is a completely different, less salty and potentially equally splendid affair. Today is made from pasteurised milk and in large dairies as well as from raw milk, in smaller batches. You can taste the difference, and it’s reflected in the (altogether rather modest) price. Compare, look out, ask your cheesemonger!

And once you’ve found the real stuff (this gorgeous piece came from Maître Philippe in Berlin), enjoy the dense yet melting texture and those beautiful aromas, which always remind me of the very finest mushroom cream soup. None of this gets rid of the blues’ causes – but it bolsters spirit and soul. And you can also play around with it, experiment in the kitchen, whip it into butter, make ice cream… Cheesio, mes amis – in spite of any idiots.

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