Cheesecake dates back to 776 BC in Ancient Greece, when it was fed to athletes at the Olympic Games. Generally considered a calorie-rich and indulgent dessert in modern North American contexts, the Greeks considered it a high energy food source. I like the way they think.
Cheesecake has evolved and many cultures have their own versions, but one in particular is unique to Vancouver the Stilton Cheesecake.
While it is commonly considered the dessert for non-dessert lovers, this cheese plate and dessert-in-one is embraced by sophisticated palates who enjoy sweet and savoury flavour combinations.
In the mid-90s the idea of Stilton in a dessert was adventurous; the earliest trace I could find for it was in May 1990. Texas Monthly magazine published a recipe for Stilton Cheesecake with Walnut Crust by chef Jack Chaplin of Chaplins in Dallas.
Its origin may not be officially documented, but the history of the Stilton Cheesecake has strong roots in Vancouver.
It was arguably invented in, or at least introduced to, Vancouver at the 1996 opening of Diva at the Met. The creator was Michael Noble, who was the executive chef at the time, but is now chef and proprietor of NOtaBLE in Calgary. I had the pleasure of meeting chef Noble and trying the original Stilton Cheesecake, which has been on NOtaBLEs menu since opening day in late 2010.
The inspiration came to him as an epiphany... Cheesecake is a popular classic but he wanted to do something different for those who dont have much of a sweet tooth.
His colleagues had their doubts, but it was a hit and has been on the Diva menu since. Minor adjustments have been made, but the recipe is more or less the same with a shortbread crust, crispy bruleed top, and a port wine reduced rhubarb compote.
The Caramelized Stilton Cheesecake is still on the current dessert menu at Diva but other restaurants and chefs have reinterpreted it by switching up the cheese, crust and fruit accompaniment. Whether or not it was inspired by the original is something youll have to ask chef.
Here are other versions of the blue cheese cheesecake. They could be even better than the original, but the original is the original.
A beloved patisserie led by a world class baker, Thomas Haas, needs no introduction. Part of the original Diva at the Met crew, Haas sticks to the British blue cheese and offers a Stilton Cheesecake with a shortbread crust and rhubarb compote.
Being an Italian restaurant, their chef uses an Italian blue cheese and offers it only as a dessert special. The Gorgonzola cheesecake is covered in dark chocolate ganache and served with a poached pear. Call ahead to avoid disappointment.
I tried this version before the Stilton cheesecake original and it ranks high on my cheesecake list. It is not a blue cheese, but the idea is similar and worth trying. They offer a Goat Cheesecake brulee, lavender shortbread crust, pear trio, and honeyed pine nut buds.
Find Mijune judging at the Canadian National Chocolate Competition Sept. 23-24, at Wines of Argentina on Sept. 25, and the Louis Gervais Catering 15 Years of Haute Cuisine Anniversary party at the Rooftop Pavilion at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sept. 26. Find out more about Mijune at FollowMeFoodie.com or follow her on Twitter @followmefoodie.