Oh, hi. This is awkward. Here I am, more than a month after those beers, during which time I didn't call, write, or make any attempt to connect. Not so much as a peep.
Well this time it’s different. Really. And there are a few things I need to tell you.
First, you’ll be seeing a lot more of me. On Mondays, specifically. Perhaps not every Monday, but most Mondays. If I’m not mistaken, today is Monday. Hi.
I should also tell you that I’ll be bringing cheese around a lot more. Today, for instance, I brought a feisty little cheese that I want you to meet.
So here it goes. Meet Blue Haze, an Ontarian smoked blue cheese.
Blue Haze is well-travelled, for a cheese. Monks start this semi-firm blue in l’Abbaye de Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, in Québec. The wheels travel to Cayuga, Ontario, where they are smoked of a bed of cherry and hickory chips by an affineur, Provincial Fine Foods.
And in this case of this particular wedge of cheese, photographed by my father, Randy, it also travelled with me to Manitoba, where it was laid to rest. In our stomachs.
While blue cheese and smokiness may be flavourful extremes, the result is mellow and well balanced. Because the cheese is fairly dense, the effects of the smoking process don’t fully penetrate the salty, buttery blues. But the golden, sweet caramel smoke rind creates a surprisingly delicate contrast.
The girl at the cheese shop recommended I have this cheese with fig chutney. I tested her theory, but with ground-cherry jam instead. Beautiful. Then I tested it again. And again. And again. I suspect Blue Haze and I will meet again.