This marvelous blue cheese is the English contender for "King of Cheeses." It ranks as one of the top three blues in the world, along with gorgonzola and Roquefort. Although it is made in parts of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, it received its name in the 18th century because it was first sold in the small village of Stilton in Huntingdonshire. Intriguingly, no Stilton is made in Stilton. It never has been, and now legally cannot be, because the village is not in one of the approved shires. Stilton is made from whole cow's milk and allowed to ripen for 2 to 4 months, during which time it is skewered numerous times to encourage the growth of Pencillium roqueforti mold (also present in Roquefort cheese). This process creates a pale yellow interior with blue-green veins. The texture is rich and creamy (45 percent fat) but slightly crumbly. The flavor is rich, creamy and savory with the pungency of blue cheese. Stilton is sold in tall cylinders with a crusty brownish-gray rind. In addition to this better-known blue version, there is also a white Stilton that isn't exposed to Pencillium roqueforti. It has a mild and slightly sour flavor. Stilton is at its best eaten by itself with a glass of port or a full-bodied dry red wine.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
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