Cheese of the Week: Roaring Forties Tasmanian Blue
Roaring Forties blue cheese hails from more than 10,500 miles away from my Manhattan home. Crafted on King Island, Tasmania, located south of Melbourne at the western end of the Bass Strait, Roaring Forties was named forthe trade winds that blow between mainland Australia and King Island. Needless to say, this faraway locale is not where one would expect to find a world-class blue cheese.
Due to its remote location and lack of over-development – only 1,700 brave people live on the island – King Island has some of the cleanest air in the world. Add the cheesemakers’ closed-herd system, in which no new cows are introduced into the healthy herds on the Island (thus preventing any advancement of disease), and you have some incredibly pristine milk from which you can make extremely high-quality cheese.
This mild, cow’s milk blue is soft and creamy, rich and buttery with a slight blue bite, and retains a depth of flavor without being overpowering. Aesthetically, the cheese can be identified by its signature covering of black wax, which it is dipped in to retain moisture and slow the blue mold growth. Well-balanced flavor development (between milk, salt and blue mold) is the telltale quality of a great blue cheese, and Roaring Forties has it in spades. Due to its balanced flavor, it’s a very versatile cheese; it is great in salads, on a cheese board or in any number of recipes calling for a stellar blue. It is also appropriate to pair with fortified wine, like sherry or Madeira; add stone fruit, like apricots, and crusty bread for a blissful and decadent snack.
I have been a fan of this cheese since first tasting it after it won the Best of Show award at the 2002 Fancy Food show in NYC. At the time, it felt so exotic to taste a cheese that came all the way from Tasmania. Nowadays, I am grateful that I live in a city where I can walk over to my local cheese shop and get a bite of perfection from literally the other side of the world.
Additional reporting by Madeleine James.