Bleu de Bresse is Blue Cheese for Beginners

Bresse Bleu or Bleu de Bresse

I discovered Bleu de Bresse at Starsky’s market in Mississauga.

Bleu de Bresse comes from France. It is a very mild blue cheese made from cow’s milk with a texture that is similar to brie. The rind is soft, white and edible.

This blue cheese originated in 1951 in the French Province of Bresse. The Bresse region is better known for its poultry production which boasts to produce some of the “best chickens in the world”. But we are not talking chickens here. We are talking cheese.

Bleu de Bresse is also called Bresse Bleu. It is made in the French village of Bourge-en-Bresse. The brand and trademark for Bleu de Bresse are owned by the large European cheese company Bongrain. Unlike many of the famous French cheeses, Bleu de Bresse is not an AOC designated cheese.

The mild blue cheese cheese flavor comes from Penicillium roqueforti which is introduced to the curds before they are put into perforated molds. Once the curds become set in the molds, the cheese is removed, salted, turned, drained, and covered with Penicillium camemberti to form the outer rind. The Bleu de Bresse is then aged 3 to 4 weeks.

Bleu de Bresse is quite soft and very spreadable. It is less dense and easier to spread than cream cheese.

Bleu de Bresse spread on a Table Water Cracker

Bleu de Bresse is slightly firm when refrigerated. As with most cheeses, take this cheese out an hour or so before serving to allow it to come to room temperature. This one is so mild you will want to enjoy all the flavor it can provide. It needs to be at room temperature to do that.

What does Bleu de Bresse taste like?

The Bleu de Bresse has a mild scent reminiscent of buttered mushrooms. Bresse bleu claims to be the creamiest of all blue cheeses. I would agree with that. However, the little veins of blue do maintain a slight texture that can be sensed and separated on the tongue.

I found the Bleu de Bresse to be less salty than a typical blue cheeses. My research uncovered a reference that claimed Bresse Bleu has 30% less salt compared to other blue-veined cheeses. My palette likes that.

Of the blue cheeses that I have tried so far, Bleu de Bresse is most similar to German Cambozola. When I first tried Cambozola I considered it to be mild. The Bleu de Bresse is an even milder blue cheese. I don’t think a blue cheese could be much milder than this and still be a blue cheese. Personally I prefer my blue cheese stronger.

My teenage daughter is not food adventurous, to say the least.  She has never garnered the courage to try a “moldy” blue cheese … until today. When she saw me drafting this blog, titled “Blue Cheese for Beginners”, she agreed to try a little on a table water cracker. After staring at the cracker for a few minutes and then smelling it, she took a small bite, then another, and another. I was pleasantly surprised when she admitted “It was better than I thought it would be.”

Bleu de Bresse may be the ultimate mild blue cheese. This is definitely the blue cheese of choice for a beginner or unadventurous guests. I am glad to have discovered it because it is a great cheese to add to my arsenal of cheese options. It will be my blue cheese “secret weapon” for my next timid blue cheese tasting guest.

A Pairing Suggestion; Ciel de Charlevoix and Cirque du Soleil

Ciel de Charlevoix

Ciel de Charlevoix is a Canadian blue cheese that is produced in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec.

Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec

The town is about 90 km Northeast of Quebec City on the northern shore of the Saint Lawrence River.

Baie-Saint-Paul from Google Maps

This small town (population 7,288) was where Cirque du Soleil was founded in 1984 by two former street performers, Guy Laliberté and Daniel Gauthier. Cirque du Soleil is currently based in Montreal and the company has grown to employ 5,200 people.

The blue cheese Ciel de Charlevoix is produced by La Maison d’Affinage Maurice Dufour Inc. which was established in 1994 by Maurice Dufour. Maurice is a certified agronomist and the head affineur. Their cheeses have won many awards. The Ciel de Charlevoix won the 2009 Champion of the Blue-veined category at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.

Ciel de Charlevoix is one of six cheeses currently produced by the company. The six cheeses are:

  • Le Ciel de Charlevoix
  • Le Migneron de Charlevoix
  • Le Secret de Maurice
  • La Tomme d’Elles
  • La Tomme de Brebis de Charlevoix
  • Le Bleu de Brebis de Charlevoix

Ciel de Charlevoix is made from cow’s milk. It is ripened a minimum of 60 days with a shelf like of 60-75 days. The blue is the result of P. Roqueforti. This cheese is 27% milk fat and 39% moisture content.

What does Ciel de Charlevoix taste like?

I like blue cheese and I enjoyed this one. This is not a soft spreadable blue cheese like Cambozola. This is semi-firm cheese that does not need a cracker to carry it. You can slice a small piece and let it melt on your tongue. I like the colour which is a creamy  ivory with a hint of aged yellow that is heavily veined with blue green mold. Although this cheese is not aged long, its look conveys a certain character. It is not a strong blue; in terms of strength, it is in the middle.  It has a fairly sharp finish.

Ciel de Charlevoix will hold its own on a cheese plate. I suggest pairing this cheese with a Cirque du Soleil performance since they both originate from the same small town. My prediction is that they will go together wonderfully and you will enjoy both very much.

Cheese and Carr’s Table Water Crackers

What cheese blog would be complete without a little attention to cheese’s best friend … the cracker? It is common to find bread or crackers to accompany the serving of cheese. If you are serving a soft cheese, then a cracker, or piece of bread, is almost a necessity to carry the cheese to your mouth.

Honestly, I think that fresh bread, such as a french baguette, is the ultimate cheese carrier with crackers being a close second. Some crackers are better to pair with cheese than others. If you have a mild cheese, you might try marrying it with an exciting cracker full of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion … you get the idea. But there is a tipping point when cheese looses the stage to such a cracker. At that point why not just spread butter?

A delicate cheese needs a delicate cracker. And that is why I suggest Carr’s Table Water Crackers. They have a nice consistency. They won’t break under the pressure of a knife unless the cheese is atypically stiff. They are a nice size, perfect for two or three bites, unless you have a big appetite, or a big mouth. They are a perfect cracker for brie.

A problem with some crackers is that they have surface salt. The Carr’s crackers do not. I find the baked in salt balance just about perfect. The Carr’s Table Water Crackers can also carry stronger cheeses competently. It is my cracker of choice for Cambozola and other blue cheeses. In fact, it is a great all around cracker for most cheeses.

A box contains about 35 crackers. Carr’s crackers are well distributed and should be widely available. Carr’s Table Water Crackers have my endorsement.

Disclosure: I don’t work for Carr’s or any affiliate. I have not been compensated in any way for this post. I just like ’em.

Who the heck is Saint Agur?

Saint Agur – France

Saint Agur Blue Cheese

Today our cheese adventure takes us to the Auvergne region of central France to discover Saint Agur Blue Cheese.

Auvergne Region in France

Auvergne Region in France – Image from Wiki

I found this cheese at the deli counter at Michael-Angelos Market. They have a cheese case where they will cut the cheeses from the wheel in the amount you request. This was cut from the wheel … well it’s not really a wheel because Saint Agur Blue Cheese comes formed in an octagonal shape and wrapped in foil.

Image showing the octagonal package of Saint Agur Blue Cheese

Saint Agur Blue Cheese Octagonal Form – Google Images

Saint Agur Blue Cheese was introduced in 1988 by the French Cheese Company Bongrain. When I first saw the name I assumed the cheese was named after some famous Saint in ancient history. I thought it would be interesting to find out who Saint Agur was and what notable accomplishment he must have achieved to have such a lovely cheese named in his honor.

The fact is, there is no Saint Agur and there never was. There isn’t even a town in France called Saint Agur. The name appears to be the result of a creative marketing department at Bongrain. I have to give them credit. The name is pretty swanky. And the cheese … well it is really good. Perhaps it will be a name that will live on for hundreds of years and someday will become a classic.

The cows milk for Saint Agur comes from the village of Beauzac in central France. The milk is pasteurized. This is a rich cheese with 60% butterfat which qualifies it as a double-cream cheese. The blue comes from the fungi penicillium roqueforti which is the same fungi used in Stilton, Cambozola and Roquefort.  The Saint Agur has a short aging time of 60 days. The foil wrap prevents the cheese from becoming more blue.

How does it taste?

I like blue cheese. When a I tried Cambozola it become my favorite blue, until now. Saint Agur might be the perfect blue for me. I find the Danish Blue cheese Rosenborg Castello a bit too salty. The Cambozola was nice, but it is very mild. I like a bit more blue flavor. Then along comes Saint Agur which is just right. It is a perfect balance of creamy and blue cheesy. It is buttery, like a triple-cream brie. It melts in your mouth and spreads smooth. It’s awesome.

The blue flavor I would classify as medium strong. If blue cheeses intimidate you then try Cambozola before stepping up to The Saint Agur.

I would suggest pairing it with any full bodied red wine, port or dessert wine.

Vive La France!
Vive La Saint Agur Blue Cheese!

Cambozola Gourmet Cream Spread

It was about a week ago when I tried Cambozola for the first time and I really liked it. I saw this Cambozola spread in the supermarket over the weekend. Gourmet Cream Spread … how enticing. I thought this might be perfect on crackers or a bagel. I had to give it a try.

The Cambozola spread is packaged in a small plastic resealable container. When I peeled away the plastic seal the cheese container was filled to the very top. It looked like there was another layer of plastic to remove but it was just the smoothed out texture of the spread. It looked artificial and not particularly appealing. I took a knife and stirred it up trying to give it life. The cheese quickly separated from the sides of the container like it was blue cheese jello. I stirred a few more times then spread some onto a Carr’s Table Water cracker and a small piece of flatbread.

I gave it the taste test. There wasn’t much taste, it was disappointing. The spread had hardly any character. If I closed my eyes I’m not sure I could even taste the blue cheese. This is nothing like the Cambozola that I had enjoyed before. I gave my kids a try and they told me it tasted like The Laughing Cow. Personally I wasn’t a big fan of The Laughing Cow but I actually preferred it over this.

The Cambozola spread on the Carr’s Tablewater Cracker was just a mouthful of bland. Absolutely nothing to get excited about here. I would not serve that combination to guests.

The Cambozola spread on the flatbread was still not very exciting. The flatbread had sesame seed, poppy seeds and dried onion. The flavor of the flatbread carried the combination. The Cambozola spread just added some texture and moisture.

I thought further about the plastic container. I was attracted to the idea at first, but after thinking it through the plastic is something that must be disposed of in a landfill or recycling center. That is not nearly as environmentally responsible as the small piece of plastic wrap protecting the Cambozola that I had purchased before. I’m not going to get on my Save the Earth bandstand here. Let’s just say I would rather go with the packaging that results in the least waste.

The bottom line – I won’t be buying the Cambozola spread again and I can’t recommend it. It’s back to the real Cambozola for me.


Today our cheese adventure takes us to Germany. Cambozola is a very interesting cheese, a combination of Brie and Blue cheese. It is sometimes called Blue Brie or Bavarian Blue. It is made by Kasseri Champignon in Bavaria. The name “Cambozola” was trademarked in Germany in 1975.

Cambozola is made from pasteurized cow’s milk. It is similar to a soft-ripened triple cream but it has the added excitement of Penicillium roqueforti mold. The Penicillium roqueforti is the same mold used to make Stilton, Roquefort and Gorgonzola. For me it is the best of both worlds … smooth, nutty, creamy with a little zippy flavor from the blue. It spreads well on bread or crackers. The rind of the cheese is much like Camembert.

I did not get the best picture of the cheese but you can see what I am describing, streaks of blue in what otherwise appears to be  a piece of brie.

It is an excellent cheese for a cheese board as the mild blue would be satisfying to people who are not drawn to the stronger cheese varieties. I would suggest pairing it with apples, pears or grapes and a light to medium bodied Burgundy or Bordeaux wine. It also paired well with Graham’s 2003 Port on the evening my friend Mike and I did the tasting.

While researching I came across a recipe showcasing the Cambozola cheese and it looks amazing. I have not tried it, but I definitely will. The recipe is Warm Figs with Cambozola and Balsamic.

I found the official Cambozola website. Unfortunately it is not in English nor could I find an English version.

Blue cheese is my favorite variety of cheese and the Cambozola is near the top of that list.

Das ist wunderbar Käse! – This is wonderful Cheese!


I was visiting a friend and he knows I enjoy cheese. He brought out two bottles of Port, Rosenborg Blue Cheese, Swiss Appenzeller and Swiss Mont Vully. I brought German Cambozola and Greek Kasseri.

After taking a few pictures (he knows I’m a blogger) we did some serious tasting and enjoying. But this post is specifically about the Appenzellar. I’ll be posting about the Cambozola and Mont Vully later.

This is a picture of the Appenzeller.


Appenzeller cheese is produced in Northeast Switzerland. It is made from cow’s milk and is a hard cheese. An herbal brine is applied to cheese during curing to promote the rind. There are 75 dairies producing Appenzeller. This is a pretty good photo because it shows the small holes and the golden rind. It smells strong but it does not taste as strong as it smells. It melts nicely on the tongue and is smooth. It had taste characteristics similar to the Mont Vully. It was mildly salty, earthy, nutty and lightly fruity. I could not decide if I preferred the Appenzeller or the Mont Vully. They are a bit different but I liked them both in a way I find hard to describe.

The Appenzeller is sold in three varieties.

Classic – in a silver wrapper aged 3-4 months (that is what we tried)
Surchoix – in a Gold wrapper aged 4-6 months
Extra – in a Black wrapper aged six months or longer

The official Appenzeller page is here.

The Appenzeller is a great cheese and a good addition to a cheese plate. It is very different from the cheddar cheeses many people are used to tasting. It is a bit strong and may not appeal to everybody. It did pair very nicely with the Graham’s 2003 Port.