Cheese: St. Soleil (Soleil means sun in French)
Producer: Herve Mons
Location: Burgundy, France
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)
If you have ever had Epoisses, this cheese is very similar... almost like an entry level Epoisses. The St. Soleil, like the Epoisses, is washed with Marc de Bourgogne. Marc de Bourgogne is a French spirit that is made using the leftover skins, pulps and seeds from the wine making process. By washing this cheese twice a day with the Marc de Bourgogne the cheese develops the orange color that you see from B-Linens (naturally occurring bacteria) that are attracted to the type of environment that is on the surface of this cheese (and all other washed rind cheeses). B-Linens are also responsible for the pungent smell that washed rind cheeses have. The B-Linens are actually a part of the same family of bacteria that produce body odor, so being smelly is in their nature!
Now if you can get past the funky, barnyardy, woodsy smell, you are in for quite a treat! The cheese, when fully ripened, is just a goopey heaven - hence the need to put it in a wooden round in order to keep its shape. Enjoy this cheese like you would a fondue - grab a baguette and dig in!
For me, this cheese reminded me so much of how beef broth tastes... it's a little salty, but meaty and savory. The salt is balanced out by the creamy flavors present. I call this an entry level Epoisses because the flavors aren't as intense. If you're in an adventurous, smelly cheese mood, I recommend grabbing one of these tasty little rounds. They are exclusive to Whole Foods Market, so you won't be able to find them anywhere else! Come on by the cheese counter and get yours today!
Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!
p.s. If you're going to be in the Petaluma area the weekend of 3/22 - 3/24 stop on by the California Artisan Cheese Festival! I will be teaching a course on how to build cheese plates with some of my WFM colleagues that Saturday, 3/23 from 1:30pm - 3:30pm. For more information and the schedule of events, please visit http://artisancheesefestival.com/schedule-of-events/ I hope to see some of you there!!