“Oh what excellent combinations are Chambertin and Roquefort, both to revive love and to bring to prompt maturity a budding love.”

— Casanova

Roquefort cheese, or its inception, seems to be lost to history. Pliny the Elder, the historian who witnessed the eruption of Vespucci in the first century A.D, refers to the noble cheese as a Roman favorite.

That is as it should be, for the cheese sold as Stilton in England or blue in the United States is a worldwide favorite. Only the region of Roquefort in rural France can claim actual dominion. But wherever that happens, those marauding blue veins of decay turn the cheese into a palate-exploding sensation. Eaten on a slice of fresh baked sourdough bread, in a baguette sandwich — or simply on crisp crackers — one ventures into the Twilight Zone of the sublime. Sauces blended with this cheese are rich and unexpected.

Casanova mentions Chambertin as the perfect companion to this historical cheese. As a Frenchman, he qualifies as a worthy judge. About 50 years ago, I was lucky enough to study in France. On my second day in Paris, I stumbled upon a cheese market that ran down both sides of a closed street for four blocks, each cheese seemingly individual. An epidemic of cheese adoration sweeps through this country of high cuisine and divine country fare. But wine still leads the pack, at least by a nose. And Chambertin rises to the top of the white wine world. It also leads in price.

Many readers might challenge the idea of romance in an older couple, but holy batman, we ain’t dead yet.

Love (and romance) live on.

Below are recipes that expedites age-old passions.

Roquefort Cream Spread

Blend 3 ounces of cream cheese with an equal portion of cream. Add 1/2 cup of crumbled bleu, 1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped sweet onion and a few drops of lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Throw in some chopped chives and serve in a ceramic bowl to be spread on a slice of baguette.

Steak and Roquefort

Marry together ½ pound of soft butter, ½ pound of bleu cheese and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped chives. Shape into a roll and refrigerate in waxed paper. When your steaks are perfectly grilled (130 degrees), rest the meat for a few minutes. Slice the cheese spread into 1 inch rounds and place on top of the steaks. Serve on a plate with grilled asparagus or a starch like risotto. The spread will melt and highlight the wonderful meat.

Date night

We can impress with Oregon or Washington Chardonnay. Forty years ago, Bill Fuller of Tualatin beat out the best of the best in a London international wine competition. These fine wines, rich in the taste of butter, vanilla, ripe grapes and terroir, have spawned like salmon eggs in a redd. A Walla Walla chard from Woodward Canyon will run a third of the cost of the Chambertin but pleases like a winning lottery ticket. And the small family of Walla Walla has a lot of competition.

This holds true of cheese. Rogue Creamery of Central Point, Oregon, just won medals in a world competition of bleu cheeses with their artisan, Rogue River Blue. The cheese is a favorite in many of our River City and Peninsula restaurants. You can order it online or fire up the Model A and head inland. Opportunity is unlimited.

Your date walks in. On a candle-lit table sits a bottle of honey colored chardonnay and a Roquefort cheese spread. A sliced and butter-grilled baguette rests next to the accompaniments. A bowl of Italian olives yells out to be plunged into your mouth — or theirs. A slice of country pate lingers nearby. On the stove top rest two porterhouse steaks, each grilled rare and covered with a Roquefort topping with lots of cracked black pepper and sea salt. Fresh roasted asparagus sweats in a sauté pan. The smell of olive oil and garlic lingers. Or maybe a mushroom Risotto — but let’s not get too carried away. Your appetite for food and romance waits for an invitation.

Open the door and come in. The night is young .

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(1) comment


Re. Chambertin wine: The author should know that the grapes of the Chambertin vineyard are Pinot noir and, to the best of my awareness, are all used to produce red, not white, wine. The best known appellation, Gevrey Chambertin, can only be applied to red wine and is a wonderful accompaniment to Roquefort. I’m certain this is what Casanova had in mind for his seductions.

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