Cheese of the Month: Poplar Grove’s Tiger Blue

Despite its ferocious name, Poplar Grove’s Tiger Blue cheese doesn’t have as much bite as one might suspect. In fact, this medium strength cheese has been known to be tame enough for those who claim to be afraid of the ever intense, blue-veined mold.

“We seem to have converted many customers to actually like, even love, blue cheese,” says Gitta Pedersen, owner of Poplar Grove Cheese.

Cheesemonger Ashley Linkletter of Les Amis du Fromage can certainly attest to Tiger Blue’s popularity.  “It has a loyal following,” she said, adding that Les Amis supplies it to many restaurants around Vancouver.

Tiger Blue is a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese somewhat similar to Stilton, though more subtle and creamy with a long, lingering sweetness.  What makes it especially unique is its ability to please both the palate and the eyes.  “I just love the way it looks,” Linkletter said.

Not only does the blue mold vein on the inside of the cheese, it also coats the exterior of the cheese, creating a striking aesthetic.

To achieve this result, Pedersen explained that the aging cheese is poked with steel rods once a week for four weeks so that the blue mold, which thrives upon contact with air, can develop on both the inside and  the outside of the cheese.

The characteristic flavours of blue cheese pair best with sweeter beverages that counter their sharpness. Dessert wines, sweet reds, and rosés provide a beautiful balance, while drier wines and bitter beers tend to bring out a metallic taste in the cheese.

A perfect complement to the abundant fruits harvested in September, Tiger Blue’s sweetness is enhanced by succulent peaches and crisp apples. Pedersen recommends crumbling Tiger Blue atop a caramelized onion tart, melting it over a grilled steak or serving it as part of a cheese board accompanied with hot pepper jelly. It’s also a great after dinner treat to enjoy while lingering over the last few, sweet, summery evenings September has to offer.

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