The other week I had people over for some wine and snacks. One of my friends tends to tote a generous wedge of cheese when she comes over — and her selections never disappoint. Her tactic? She tells her cheesemonger that she's going over to a cheesemonger's house. And let's him do the picking.
This time, her blue literally shoved the one I'd purchased off of the cheese board and back into the fridge. Hers, quite simply, deserved center stage.
The cheese? Blu di Bufala, from Italy's northern city of Bergamo. It's unique in and of itself simply since it's made from buffalo milk. It's also square in shape, which is cool on the eyes.
Let's talk buffalo. (Water buffalo, that is.) The only other widely-available buffalo cheese is Mozzarella di Bufala, nearly all of whose merit is due to the milk type alone. If you're familiar with this special sort of mozzarella, you know that it's of a richer flavor and mouthfeel. And no wonder: Buffalo milk is nearly twice as fatty as cow milk.
So imagine a blue made with buffalo milk. By nature, blue cheeses are already hearty, showstopping numbers, correct? Whether they're of that astringent or fiercely stinky quality, blue cheese is a force. When buffalo milk becomes part of the equation, the result is all the more intense. But paradoxically, not in terms of its strength.
Indeed, Blu di Bufala isn't a strong blue. It's as though the high fat content of its milk mellows the astringency of the blue mold, making for a cheese that's supremely balanced, nearly nutty in flavor. It's not as salty as other blues, which makes that creamy quality shine even more effectively. Texture-wise, we're talking smooth and luscious, almost fluffy, as if during cheesemaking the curds were left large and wet before being ladled into the square forms.
Complete with a fully edible rind, it's no wonder that not a scrap was left by the end of the night.
→ Find it: Blu di Bufala can be found at Murray's Cheese for $28.99/lb.
(Image: Nora Singley)