Blame Bobby Flay. My mother (AKA Mimi) was watching a show in which he smeared a cheese called “ribiella? robiella?” on a pizza crust and topped it with asparagus. From this observation, a mission was born. I needed to find the cheese so that Mimi could make Bobby Flay pizza! A Google search revealed that the cheese is called robiola. Mimi said that Flay had described it as being similar to goat cheese, although it is a blend of different milks. Searches of many markets came up empty. Finally Star Provisions yielded up a $15 block of smething more like brie than what I imagined as goat cheese (a log of white fresh cheese). I had my prize, but how did it compare to similar cheeses? How would it fare on pizza?
In order to make a comparison, I got two soft ripened cheeses made from cow’s and goat’s milk respectively. Then, on the off chance that I’d missed the robiola at Whole Foods (because I’d been looking for a log of goat cheese), I wentback there and found…with no sign and much cheaper…another robiola. Hence we have four soft or mold ripened cheeses.
This was the big $15 boy from Star Provisions. Robiola is a traditional cheese of northern Italy. It can be made with sheep, cow and goat’s milk. This brand is a blend of cow and sheep’s milk. It was surprisingly mild and nutty and not runny like some brie. There was a bit of brie bite at the end. The only thing about this cheese is that it was so mild that it was rather unremarkable. That is to say, it was ordinary and disappointing after costing that much. On the other hand, if you like a milder cheese, this might be just right. It would be nice with assorted nuts and honey, fruit, or even jams. Salty nibbles would probably drown out the flavor of the cheese.
Robiola Due Leche
This was the cheaper younger sibling of the Big Boy and like it, is made from cow and sheep’s milk (due leche just means two milks). It was was creamier and had less of the brie bite. The texture was more rubbery. I thought that it had more flavor from the sheep’s milk, but PostLibyan didn’t taste that. It’s a nice choice for the pizza because the nuances get lost when the cheese is cooked.
Brie de Meaux
Brie de Meaux is classic French mold ripened cheese. It is made of cow’s milk. Brie has never been one of my favorite cheeses, and it has a flavor that I often refer to as “gym sock.” PostLibyan more generously characterized it as something like the flavor of Swiss. However that may be, we both agreed that there were flavors reminiscent of cheddar in it. The texture was not at all rubbery but a little runny.
Actually a goat cheese, this slice of cheese had a center of firm goat cheese surrounded by a ripened layer and then the mold lining. It is also French and is native to the Loire valley. The ripened layer was soft and creamy like a cheese dip. The flavor was like a strong goat cheese but mellower and nuttier. The firm cheese in the center simply tasted like a very strong goat cheese.
If you like soft ripened cheeses, you may enjoy a stronger flavor or not. If you like a mild cheese, a robiola would work for you. Its subtleties tend to get lost in cooking, so I think we preferred to cook with the stronger brie and boucheron. These were very nice on pizza (a kind of wrinkle on baked brie) and would even make a decadent cheese toast. We enjoyed the tasting of a kind of cheese we probably wouldn’t even have thought about without Mimi watching Bobby Flay. So we’ll give him thanks instead of blame.