Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vico’s Saveur Fromage Bleu et Crème

         When I was little, I was fascinated with Roquefort cheese.  My parents warned me it might be too intense for me, which naturally heightened my interest, as well as the name, which brought to mind some sort of formidable rocky castle.  Fortunately for me, Roquefort is indeed strongly flavorful- though not ‘spicy’, it indeed packs a certain salty punch, wedded to its creamy texture.

Roquefort, the Batman of blue cheeses,
exclusively grown from its very own
mutant bacteria in the moist  caves of
the village of Roquefort, France.

Most Americans are familiar with ‘Blue cheese’ from its use in salad dressing and the occasional ritzy hamburger sauce, but of course it has many other applications, (just try it spread llike butter on bread, it’s great!)  While we Americans have been quick to dip Buffalo wings in some bleu, I hadn’t really seen blue cheese chips until I found a bag on the store shelves by Vico, and I asked myself, “why did it take so long?”  As cheese flavorings are so ubiquitous on the crisps, it’s wonder they took so long to go from cheddar  orange to blue- the movie industry has long realized it’s a hot combo.

Vico decided to keep it classy and not use any artificial colorants, which I have to admit is slightly disappointing but probably prudent, so you will be looking at plain blonde-yellow chips upon tearing open the bag.  Vico has consistently impressed me with their crisps, and these ones were enormous and full of delicious air bubbles.  Staring at the bisected half of one of the chips, I felt I was beholding the desiccated husk of a pint-sized whale, so expansive and bulbous with air bubbles were the chip’s proportions.  Like other Vico products, they proved to be extra hard and crunchy.

On second thought, that metaphor may
not be as tasty looking as it sounded...
But what of the flavor?  I would characterize it as cunning in its mimickery- yet sadly insufficient.  One bite of the blond crisps will unleash the familiar salty aromas of blue cheese- oh yes!- mixed with a milder creamy aroma, but then there is no follow through, the taste does not last.  So though the experience is evocative, the flavoring has not been applied in sufficient quantities to make it linger memorably.

Roquefort is not the only French blue
cheese- the above pictured Bleu
d'Auvergne has a butterier texture,
and incorporates rye-bread mold
for a mellower flavor.
Overall, I would still recommend giving these a try because the blue cheese flavor is cool and unique and deserves to be expanded upon; as it was, I was tasting about 2/3 potato chip to 1/3 blue cheese, a proportion which must be improved.  Vico should still be commended for shoring up this obvious void in France’s national chip portfolio, and we can only hope they and others will continue to refine the concept to more ambitious and assertive ends.  Plus: anyone interested in making some Camembert chips?

Stars:
Spiciness: None

Pros:
- Gets the salty flavor of blue cheese nearly right
- Large crunchy chips with delightfully bulging air bubbles

Cons:
- Flavoring lacking necessary density and intensity, does not dominate over the potato-chip flavor

3 comments:

  1. On this we are sorely divided--best chip ever. Tastes just like what it says it will without trying to fake me out with prentend and colorful seasonings. Plus, what would a blue cheese chip look like, moldy? Natural, all the way!

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  2. While I already conceded that it was probably wiser not to actually make blue colored chips, blue cheese is NOT subtle, but these chips were.

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  3. So you like roquefort chips? Try these blue cheese and walnut "crackers":
    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/blue-cheese-and-walnut-crackers-recipe/index.html
    I traced a line of cayenne pepper across each disk before they went into the oven--an extra bit of spice is nice.

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