Roquefort cheese, France

How to eat it

There are plenty of recipes in the world that use roquefort, because of its distinctive taste. For me the best is..natural. With a dry cracker or some bread and nothing else.

One popular combination is to eat roquefort with celery. Mash some roquefort with an equal amount of butter. Fill the inside of the celery sticks with the mixture, and eat with pre-dinner drinks. If you have roquefort snacks before dinner, and roquefort as your cheese course, I recommend you have something quite light in between!

And of course, for a quick lunch, a baked potato with chopped up roquefort cheese melting on top can't be beaten...and cauliflower with roquefort soup (recipe further down this page) is very welcome on a cold winter day.

Note: If you have never tasted roquefort, it is hard to describe. The texture is quite crumbly, and a little creamy, and there are distinctive blue veins in the cheese which give it the unusual sharp taste. An acquired taste, perhaps, but once you have...there is no going back. Lunch, dinner, supper - no meal except breakfast will ever be complete without it.

Story of roquefort

Like many cheeses, roquefort is produced in large rounds, about 30cm across and 10cm thick. There is no inedible rind.

Now lets get technical. Roquefort is made from unpasteurised ewe's milk. It gets its strong and distinctive flavor from a mould that occurs naturally in the soil of some caves in the Roquefort region, and the ewe's milk from which it is made. In the olden-days, bread was left in the cave until it was covered in the mould, and was then used to make the cheese. Rather less romantically, but perhaps more hygienically, the roquefort mould is now produced in a laboratory.

 
 

Roquefort the place is found in the southern part of the Aveyron department of south France, although the neighbouring departments also produce some eg Hérault, Gard and Tarn. The place roquefort is in the centre of the nature park 'Les Grands Causses'. The largest producer is the Roquefort Société, although six other producers are also found.

The name 'roquefort' for cheese is now protected, and only cheese actually aged in the Roquefort caves can use it. The production and other aspects of the business is controlled by a confederation of 18 members - nine representing the producers of the ewe's milk and nine representing the cheese producers.

Recipe: Cauliflower and Roquefort Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 cauliflower, chopped
1 potato, chopped
250gm - 500gm (8-16 ounces) roquefort, according to how strong a taste you want. More is good.

Gently fry the chopped onion,

Add the potato, cauliflower, 1 litre of water (or vegetable stock), salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Pass through a blender / food mixer. Personally I keep this brief, because I prefer to have some 'lumps' in the soup, but this is not eveyone's preference and it does have the appearance of badly made soup, I suppose.

Reheat, adding a little more water/stock if necessary, but it should remain quite thick.

Chop the roqufort into small pieces, take the soup off the heat, and stir most of the cheese in as it melts.

Serve into bowls, sprinkle any remaining roquefort on top of the soup, and eat with plenty of fresh bread.

Conclusion

If you have never tried roquefort cheese, try it now. If you have tried it and thought it was horrible, keep trying (wash it down with port if that helps) until you do like it. And if you already love it, keep on eating it.