Bleu de Gex
The high plateaux of the Jura, which span the départements of the Jura and the Ain, form the original terroir of this cheese. Also known as “Bleu de Septmoncel” or “Bleu du Haut-Jura”, it can only be made from the milk of Montbéliarde or Simmental cows, which feed exclusively on grass and hay. Mostly made by hand, with raw milk, its method of production has barely changed since the monks of the Abbey of Saint-Claude developed the ancestral recipe as far back as the 13th century. Bleu de Gex, a blue-veined cheese, has had an AOC since 1977 and an AOP since 1996. Its name is proudly engraved on every wheel of the cheese.
This cheese is less thick than most other blue cheeses, which makes for faster aging – it is aged in a cool, moist cellar for two months. Its natural rind is dry, thin, somewhat rough and floury, beige with yellow shades and it may have a few little reddish spots. Its centre, white to ivory in colour, features speckled, pale, blue-green marbling. Its smell is not too pungent but you can make out notes of mushroom, fresh milk, hazelnut and a slight hint of vanilla. The texture is creamy, smoother than other blue cheeses, and is slightly crumbly. In the mouth, there is a mild flavour that evokes milk from high pastures, and wooded and hazelnut aromas. The aftertaste has a slightly bitter touch.
This is a delicious bread with a sweet flavour – a truly festive bread! The dense but soft centre and fondant figs offer a pleasant combination, while the seeds of the fig are crunchy in the mouth, adding a tactile dimension. It is often made with brown or wholewheat flour, which makes for a more or less coloured crust and more or less marked cereal aromas.
Sensory pairing: complementary flavours
More daring than the traditional pairing with a sourdough bread whose firm crumb contrasts with the softness of Bleu de Gex, this pairing is based on an opposition of flavours, the sweetness of the fig bread revealing the flavour of the Bleu de Gex and softens the slightly bitter finish. This pairing works with all blue cheeses, since nut-based breads slightly modify the taste of this cheese family, of which Bleu de Gex is nevertheless the mildest.
Another potential pairing: sourdough bread or Vienna bread