CALUM HODGSON, cheesemonger at Sabato, shares a current favourite.



Stuff Limited (NZ)


CHEESE IS A LOT LIKE JAZZ – it’s best when you improvise. Blue Rhapsody from Cartwheel Creamery is a Jill and Ade composition that pays tribute to the cheesemakers’ shared lust for Bleu d’Auvergne. Jill and Adrian Walcroft perform their duet in the Pohangina-Ashhurst area, taking inspiration from the fertile, alluvial river terraces within sight of the Manawatū Gorge that produce lush pastures and rich, creamy milk perfect for making soft, creamy cheeses. Blue Rhapsody has mushroomy flavours and a dense, smooth texture punctuated with pockets of slightly crunchy tyrosine crystals contained within the blue veins, which are especially apparent in the more mature batches. Flavours can be assertive, robust, meaty and spicy. Named after the George Gershwin tune, Blue Rhapsody is a rich source of neuroactive compounds, including tyramine, which provoke the release of adrenaline. When we go to sleep, a small part of the brainstem called the locus coeruleus switches on and, through its connections with other regions of the brain, triggers rapid eye movement, the dreaming state. The name locus coeruleus is latin for “blue place” and if the brainstem is cut across with a knife, the blue-coloured nerve cells that comprise this region can be seen – a lot like blue cheese. The cells are pigmented by neuromelanin, which is a by-product of the synthesis of the nerve transmitters noradrenaline and dopamine. These chemicals are derived from tyrosine, those crystals in the cheese. Since blue cheese contains tyramine, it’s thought that eating it before bed fools the brain into thinking there is more adrenaline washing around than normal, making dreams more vivid. A veritable Blue Rhapsody!;