Some of the best blue cheese in the country is made and aged in caves underneath the small southern Minnesota city of Faribault. The Caves of Faribault makes three kinds of blue cheese: Amablu, St. Pete’s Select, and Amablu Gorgonzola. They are all sweet, mellow, tangy — a complex tangle of flavors.
Amablu Gorgonzola (a gold medal winner at the 2010 World Championship Cheese Contest) is aged for 90 days and so has an extra layer of slight muskiness. It is fantastic straight from the cheese plate, but wouldn’t it be a shame if that were all you ever did with it? Sure, you could make salads and pizzas, but what about … cheesecake.
Well, then you would have the Amablueberry Cheesecake ($4.50), the signature dessert at The Cheese Cave, the Caves’ retail outlet and bistro in Faribault’s historic downtown.
What sets a good cheesecake apart from all the other sweets on the dessert tray is that tang — that extra layer of flavor beyond creamy and sweet. Gorgonzola has all that, and ups the ante a bit, with its slight muskiness and acidity. This isn’t a firm, crumbly Philly-style cheesecake. It’s lighter, creamier, and whipped almost into a froth, making it more like a chilled mousse. The gorgonzola flavor comes through at the tail end of each bite, smooth and subtle. And, since blue cheese loves fruit, this cheesecake is infused with blueberries and topped with a tart swirl of blueberry sauce.
The cheesecake itself is enough to warrant a drive to Faribault, in truth. But, if you insist on having dinner before dessert, you can do that at The Cheese Cave, too. There’s a short menu of 9-inch pizzas (including the sweet-meets-savory “Blue Pear” featuring honey, blue cheese, and pears, $7, above), sandwiches, and salads. The Roasted Pear and Blue Cheese Salad ($8, bel0w) is not unexpected, but every element, from the fruit to the candied nuts to the house-made vinaigrette, is done right.
There’s also a brief wine list and four Summit beers on tap. (The dairy also uses one Summit brew each season to wash the rind of a specialty cheese.) And The Cheese Cave recently extended their evening hours to 8pm, recognizing that some people might want to linger beyond happy hour.
The Cheese Cave is a retail outlet, too, selling good olive oil, vinegar, chocolate, and other high-quality treats in addition to Faribault cheeses. You’ll always find somebody behind the counter with a knife or a slicer, offering a sliver of this or that, or ready to put together a cheese plate for you ($8.50 small or $10.50 large). The folks at The Cheese Cave are also always happy to chat about cheese, from gorgonzola to cheesecake and everything in between.
The Cheese Cave
318 Central Ave N #6
Faribault, MN 55021