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Roquefort

Pronunciation: [rohk-FOR]

If not the "king of cheeses" as many proclaim, Roquefort is at least one of the oldest and best known in the world. This blue cheese has been enjoyed since Roman times (Caesar was a fan) and was a favorite of Charlemagne. It is made from sheep's milk that is exposed to a mold known as Penicillium roqueforti and aged for 3 months or more in the limestone caverns of Mount Combalou near the village of Roquefort in southwestern France. Although production of this cheese can be started in other specified regions of France, this is the only place true Roquefort can be aged. It is ripened for a minimum of 3 months, usually 4 months, and often for 9 months or more. Roquefort has a creamy-rich texture and pungent, piquant, somewhat salty flavor. It has a creamy white interior with blue veins and an ivory rind. It's sold in squat foil-wrapped cylinders. True Roquefort can be authenticated by a red sheep on the wrapper's emblem. The name "Roquefort" is protected by law from imitators of this remarkable cheese. For example, salad dressings made from blue cheese other than Roquefort cannot be labeled "Roquefort dressing." In addition to salad dressings, Roquefort can be used in a wide variety of preparations from savory breads to canape spreads. Aficionados love Roquefort at the end of a meal served only with a fine sauternes, port or other dessert wine. See also cheese.