Saltspring Island, or SSI-as it’s known to locals-is one of the Gulf Islands found between Vancouver Island and Vancouver. It’s the most populated Gulf Island and arguably the most groovy of the uber-groovy Gulfs. SSI was a hotbed of hippies back in the 70’s. Every second cabin or teepee housed a candle-maker, potter or creator of organic delicacies. These days SSI is sadly a little more highbrow and in many ways a victim of its own coolness. Everyone wants to be on Saltspring. Slowly the hippies and freaks are being pushed out by gentrification, development and the ensuing high price of living. This is sad, but inevitable.
Despite the move towards yuppiedom on SSI, pockets of awesomeness still exist. You can still find and purchase almost anything fabulous your heart could dream of-which is also hand-made by someone cool right on SSI-even the cheese! One of SSI’s most successful and well-known exports is today’s cheese, Blossom’s Blue made by the local Moonstruck cheese company, http://www.moonstruckcheese.com/. Moonstruck has been around since 1998 and initially made its debut at the summer market in the town of Ganges on SSI. Incidentally, I heartily recommend a trip to the summer weekend market in Ganges, its one of those things that just has to be experienced for oneself. It’s like a strangely upscale outdoors hippie haven. If you can imagine it-it will be there for sale, I kid you not.
Moonstruck has struck the big time now. Although still available at the market and on the island their cheese is available outside of SSI at your finer cheese shops in BC and across Canada. Moonstruck produces a range of cheeses including several blues, a camembert a Tomme d’or and a farmstead feta. Moonstruck is a certified organic cheese company-which is a special and rare thing in and of itself. The company makes limited runs of cheese from the milk of its own on-island small herd of Jersey cows, totally about 25 cows. The cows are happy and healthy Saltspring Island free-spirits who range at will grazing in the organic fields. Blossom’s Blue is actually named after their first head cow-Blossom. Awwwww. Come on, how cute is that?
Blossom’s Blue is a blue cheese made from cow’s milk, raw and organic. It’s aged longer than their other blue, Beddis, which is more of a starter blue. Blossom’s Blue is made in fairly small quantities and uses the bacterium penicillium roqueforti to develop its funky mould. This is the same bacterium responsible for Roquefort and Stilton cheese. In fact, this Blossom’s Blue sounds an awful lot like Stilton-a sweet Jersey milk cow cheese made using penecillium Roqueforti. I’m absolutely mad for stilton, so I’m getting a little excited here. This could be the perfect storm of Gulf Island, Jersey cow and bacteria to put me right over the edge. Sadly I haven’t been able to find any intel on the actual production of this cheese-they seem pretty close mouthed over at Moonstruck. However, as it really appears to be a local Stilton I am guessing it’s aged for about 9 weeks. You can see where the cheese has been pierced to introduce the bacterium, and that’s usually done about one week into production.
My little slice of Blossom’s Blue (thanks Blossom!) has been waiting for me, patiently. It really does look like Stilton. It’ s quite a yellow cheese, that’s the high fat from the Jersey cows. The interior paste is shot through with the green and blue mould, but it’s mostly contained to the middle of the cheese-more like a stilton, less like a gorgonzola or roquefort. There is a thin brown and soft natural rind.The cheese smells deliciously raunchy to my nose. My nose hairs stood right up to attention when I sniffed it, this is an odorous little cheese!
Mmmmm. It’s smooth and raunchy and quite salty-a little overly salty to me. Maybe it’s putting the salt into saltspring. It’s not as sweet as Stilton, there’s really no sweet note at all-just a creamy salty blue. Blossom’s blue has a spicy little bite to it, it’s making my mouth tingle. The texture is a delight, very smooth and just a little carnal, I like that! It is a yummy cheese, but not quite as fabulous as I was hoping, alas. My tongue is searching for sweet and is somewhat repelled by salt.
Blossom’s blue is an organic and local blue made from happy cows on a gulf Island. Who cares if its a little overly salty, pair it with something sweet and it will do just fine.