Friday, April 06, 2007

Blue Cheese Bayou in California Desert

Mecca, Calif.-A freight train derailed yesterday in the Southern California desert and spilled hundreds of gallons of blue cheese dressing into a canal leading to the Salton Sea. Not since the Great Oil and Vinegar Spill of 1958 has there been a salad dressing disaster of this magnitude.
Cleaning up the sticky mess will take several days, according to Union Pacific officials. The 52-year-old train was carrying a variety of cargo from Dupo, Ill., and on its way to Los Angeles, when it fell off the track and dumped the thick, chunky dressing into a small canal.
In a new development, a handful of Southern California sports bars have volunteered to donate two tons of spicy chicken wings and 400 lbs. of carrot and celery sticks to help absorb the spilled dressing. Various fast food chains are also offering lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and croutons.
Aretha Pearles, spokesman for Union Pacific, is hoping that other restaurants in the L.A. area will step up and help. “We know it’s only blue cheese and not a high-quality Roquefort, but we’re still hoping some French restaurants will get involved,” she said. “Most of the Italian eating establishments we’ve contacted are really only interested in vinaigrettes. Some have offered breadsticks, but they don’t soak up the stuff that well.”
Renowned SF food critic Richard Niblar drove all the way down to the canal to sample the dressing for himself. “It’s good, but slightly watered down. Kind of like what you might find in a cheap salad bar,” he said. “Blue cheese can be used in a wide variety of dishes, but the people in this area of the desert don’t really have very sophisticated palates.
“I’d suggest using some of it to make a leek, potato and blue cheese soup, maybe some individual blue cheese souffl├ęs, possibly some roasted vegetables with a blue cheese jalousie or cooked pears with blue cheese. It’s also quite tasty with smoked salmon. It’s a pity this didn’t occur during the summer months when it would have been hot enough to make a nice fondue. There’s a rumor going around that a few local gourmets are thinking of sponsoring a whitewater rafting trip down the blue cheese canal. Now that sounds intriguing.”

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