My first taste of Shropshire Blue occurred about four years ago at a Capitol Hill-area restaurant called Sonoma. Colleen, our friend Jo and I met there for drinks and dinner before a movie, and for some unknown reason we thought we could finish off the restaurant’s full cheeseboard, which must have been about 15 cheeses. (We also thought this wouldn’t be enough, so we ordered at least one other dish. Crazy fools.) Shropshire Blue was one of those cheeses and I remember enjoying it, but by the time we left for the movie we were so stuffed that I couldn’t really differentiate all the fine cheeses we just consumed. It was a case of cheese brain.

So I was pleased to get another chance to experience Shropshire Blue and give it due diligence since I didn’t eat it with 14 other cheeses. And I found it to be a dense and delightful cheese that was hard to stop nibbling. A pasteurized cow’s-milk cheese from Nottinghamshire, Shropshire Blue was developed in the 1970s by one Mrs. Hutchison Smith and is now produced by the Long Clawson and Colston Bassett dairies. Shropshire Blue is often described as an orange Stilton, and it does look like a bit like a Stilton dipped in the powdered cheese packet you get in your box of macaroni and cheese. The cheese is creamier than Stilton, though it has the pungency one would expect from a strong blue cheese. After snacking on some yesterday, I decided to be nice to my husband and eat a palate-cleansing apple before kissing him.

Shropshire Blue is a natural match for sweets – ripe, sugary fruits and dessert wines like Port. If you purchase it as part of a cheeseboard, I recommend giving it the spot of honor as the strongest cheese on the platter. Though I love those washed-rind stinkers as much as any cheese lover, sometimes it’s nice to let the blues get the spotlight.

Advertisements