Today’s blue cheese hails from, maybe a bit surprisingly for some, Australia, and is called the Roaring Forties.
Rind: none (coated in wax)
Awards: 2006 Champion at the Annual British Empire Cheese Show in Ontario, Canada
To be more precise, this cheese is fabricated on King Island, located between the Australian mainland and Tasmania, by the King Island Dairy. Near complete isolation from the rest of the world, regular rainfall, and moderate temperatures have allowed the rolling hills of the island to grow fertile and pure! The island is home to only 2,000 humans, but over 80,000 head of beef (including 9,000 cows). Needless to say, the beef and dairy industries are the island’s primary industries.
The King Island Dairy produces a staggering number of artisanal cheeses, and the Roaring Forties blue is just one of many of its blues. The name “Roaring Forties” refers not to any historical period, which I had first believed, but to the gale force winds that have long battered the island, and swept approximately 60 French and English ships to their doom during the nineteenth century. Legend has it that grass seeds embedded in the mattresses of these ships floated onto King Island and flourished to later nourish the island’s cattle. Honestly, I do not know how the island came to have cattle.
The cheese itself comes to us in wax-coated wheels, so the moisture remains in the cheese, and so there is no rind. The paste is slightly beige/yellow, and is lightly veined with the Penicillium Roqueforti mold. The cheese’s aroma is fruity, and a bit spicy, which I thought interesting since the cheese’s flavor is not so spicy at all.
On the tongue, the Roaring Forties is as complex as its terroir! It begins sweetly, then turns a bit smoky, with none of the spice of the Roquefort. The finish, however, is long, with a great balance between saltiness and sweetness. Its mouthfeel is quite smooth and creamy, not crumbly like many other blues.
The Roaring Forties would pair well with a late harvest wine, fortified wine, or muscat. A port, traditionally a good pair with blues, would probably go over well, too. Since the cheese has such a creamy mouthfeel and long finish, a syrupy, fruity wine would be a good pair. There are undoubtedly other wines with these characteristics. One book I am currently reading, the Cheese Plate, by Max McCalman, suggested a mild blue with a fruity zinfandel. In a world with no rules, you should go with whatever works. Maybe there is a zinfandel out there that would work with this cheese. As for the accompaniments we currently have in the store, those raisins soaked in port wine might do the trick.