For our July promotions, we received another really fun seasonal cheese at our cheese counter that I wanted to feature - Bethmale.
Affineur: Hervé Mons
Location: Valley of Bethmale in Pyrenees, France
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)
This is another amazing cheese from the caves of Hervé Mons. It is only available during the summer/fall and is quite a treat. I bought a piece from the Santa Rosa store on Yulupa today and when I opened it up, I was met with the slightly funky, barnyard smell typical of washed rinds. The paste is slightly yellow which tells me that the cows were on pasture in the spring when they were milked.
The milk comes from several small, local dairies and when the process of making Bethmale begins, the milk is heated to 86°F, renneted and left for 45 minutes. It is then hand cut and put into a mold with thick cheesecloth. It is first hand pressed, flipped and hand pressed again. A heavy plank is then put on top of the forms overnight to expel more whey. The next morning, the cheese is taken out of the form, the cheesecloth is removed and is salted on one side. The other side will be salted the following day. After this process, the Bethmale is transferred to the maturing caves where it will be aged from 4-8 weeks. It is regularly flipped and washed with a brine solution leading to the pungent, sticky washed rind.
The Hervé Mons team was kind enough to send some little jars of traditional blueberry preserves from the same region as the Bethmale. My oh my, what a treat!
I did this tasting with my Mom and it maybe took us five minutes to finish all of the cheese. The cheese itself was slightly pungent, but more mushroomy and creamy. I would categorize this cheese as a semi-soft cheese because of its springy paste. So, this means it will melt incredibly well and be a great addition to your cooking. When I put the blueberry preserve over the top, I was completely blown away. The bright, acidic, juicy blueberries with the little bit of sugar along with the earthy, tangy, creamy cheese was an incredibly balanced pairing. The acidity of the blueberries cut the fat in the creamy Bethmale. It was like eating a blueberry cheesecake. Sooooooo incredible.
The Betmale is on sale for the month of July, so be sure to stop by your local Whole Foods Market cheese counter and ask for a sample! I'm sure you're going to love it. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!