Last Saturday evening, I trekked through the bitter cold down to the Lower East Side so I could meet up with my dear, perennially busy friend MJ. To lift my sprits – which, at that point, were frozen to the bone – MJ decided we should treat ourselves to some cheese and wine (which, to be honest, is not unusual for either of us). I’d just come from Ideal Cheese uptown, where I’d picked up nice wedge of Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue; MJ had some good wine on hand, so it was game on.
Adrian and I made our way through a couple of David’s cheeses and he insisted we try the Smokey Blue. Honestly, I’m not usually a fan of smoked products; they tend to have an overpowering flavor, or worse, can taste of Liquid Smoke, the horrendous instant-smoke additive. But Smokey Blue couldn’t have been farther from my preconceptions – it had a light, distinctive smoky flavor that blended flawlessly with the three main tasting notes in blue cheese: cream, salt and the pepperiness from the blue. David explained to us that the cheese was cold-smoked over local hazelnut shells. It was perfect, and I vowed then and there that I’d be eating more of it in the near future.
Which brings me back to that freezing-cold New York City night: I’d brought the Smokey Blue, and MJ had a bottle of Knudsen Vineyards 2013 Chardonnay, a rare, outstanding Oregon wine. The crisp Chardonnay was the ideal match for the layered flavors of the cheese; it seemed like they were made for each other. The combo put a smile on both our faces and led to a festive evening, which included trying to put hats on MJ’s cats. Yes, you read that right…but that’s a story for another day.
Additional reporting by Madeleine James.
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