Stilton is a protected designation of origin cheese and in order to be called Stilton must be from one of three counties; either Derbyshire, Leicestershire, or Nottinghamshire in the U.K. Sharp and pungent with a creamy earthiness; stilton cheese is traditionally enjoyed with a nice glass of port. Tonight’s cheese is actually accompanying dinner so no port is on the scene, although a nice glass of shiraz seems to be holding its own with the strong stilton flavors.
Stilton is a particular strain of blue cheese, which gives it the strong and pungent flavor. First recorded written history referencing stilton cheese is around 1720. Stilton is a very much revered cheese, even having a sonnet written in its honor by G.K. Chesterton:
Sonnet to a Stilton Cheese
Stilton, thou shouldst be living at this hour
And so thou art. Nor losest grace thereby;
England has need of thee, and so have I—
She is a Fen. Far as the eye can scour,
League after grassy league from Lincoln tower
To Stilton in the fields, she is a Fen.
Yet this high cheese, by choice of fenland men,
Like a tall green volcano rose in power.
Plain living and long drinking are no more,
And pure religion reading "Household Words",
And sturdy manhood sitting still all day
Shrink, like this cheese that crumbles to its core;
While my digestion, like the House of Lords,
The heaviest burdens on herself doth lay.
From a health perspective, blue cheese, including stilton is created by adding the mold Penicillium as it ferments. This creates a blue, green or gray vein of mold through the cheese. Sounds a bit off putting when you read about it but trust me, it’s absolutely delicious on your plate. Blue cheese is actually a very heart healthy food. Research demonstrates that blue cheese in particular has a very anti-inflammatory impact, so it helps relieve oxidative stress, systemic inflammation and increases cardiovascular health. Side note and total bonus: The research also indicates that pairing the blue cheese with a good red wine increases the heart healthy potential and the yum factor incrementally. I’m sure it’s all about moderation but really, could there be a better pairing for your health? (: To insure you're really eating Stilton and to protect the designation make sure it has the PDO on the label.