Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mites and Mimolette

Forgive me loyal readers! I have been frantically finishing my holiday shopping and did not have a chance to sit down and blog. I apologize and please believe me when I say that I will be much more consistent with my blogs after the New Year. :)

Today I wanted to talk about a really fun cheese that is near and dear to my heart. This cheese is called Mimolette.

Mimolette, also know as "the cantelope cheese" to my customers, is a really wonderful hard cheese from Normandy, France. It is a wheel that is about 5 lbs and the rind is very distinguishable in that it looks ragged and dusty. When you cut into Mimolette, it sometimes turns into an epic battle of knife versus cheese when trying to crack through the rind. Once you've done that, you are rewarded with a beautiful bright orange paste with a very pleasant, nutty aroma. I almost always have this cheese on my cheese plates because it is super tasty and the color is so striking. It really makes any cheese plate pop.

The story that I've always heard regarding the history of Mimolette is that during the reign of Louis XIV, there was an embargo on all Dutch items. The king was particularly fond of the Dutch cheese Edam and since he couldn't import it, he commissioned someone to make a cheese similar to Edam. Louis XIV also wanted to be sure he knew the difference between Mimolette and Edam, so he had the cheesemakers color the cheese with annatto (a food coloring that is made from the seeds of the achiote tree) rendering the cheese the bright orange that we know and love today.

Another interesting note regarding Mimolette is that cheese mites are mainly responsible for the appearance of the rind. You can see a close up of the rind in the picture above. If you let a wheel of Mimolette sit in a cooler for a little bit, you can start to see bigger and bigger holes made in the rind by the cheese mites muching their way through. After you cut Mimolette, often times you are left with a pile of what looks like dust. If you were to leave the "dust" for a while and come back to it, you will see that the pile has moved. Those are cheese mites! :) I know a lot of people are slightly turned off by the fact that bugs help make this cheese, but without the cheese mites, Mimolette would never have come about.

When tasting the Mimolette, you will notice that it is a firm cheese and is very buttery, nutty and rich. I describe the flavor of Mimolette as being reminiscent of a croissant... super decadent. I like to grate this cheese and melt it on casseroles, macaroni and cheese or just on toast. It also pairs very nicely with a dry, hoppy IPA. We almost always have this cheese at our cheese counter, so don't be shy! Come on by and have a sample.

Thank you for reading! Look for a new post in the next couple of days. Until then, eat, drink and be happy!