Newest Review: ... I, given that we had sod all by way of choice. Agreed. Then I spotted a deep orange wedge of something I had never seen before, going un... more
Nutty, Buttery, Creamy and Delightfully Cheesy
Member Name: missrarr
Advantages: Bold, distinctive flavour, lovely texture and beautiful, lasting aftertaste
Disadvantages: Not the most widely available to the Joe Average shopper, perhaps
I love cheese. It is a trait shared between my mother and I, and regardless of how unhappy I might be about the current state of my figure, it is something I have serious trouble saying no to. Just a nibble...
I may love the stuff but I don't pretend to be any sort of expert. Part of the fun of enjoying this dairy treat is finding new types of cheese and new producers.
Christmas of 2012 was my first attempt at hosting the festivities at home - present were myself, the cheese-loving Mr Rarr, the cheese obsessed Mummy Rarr, and two greyhounds who certainly wouldn't say no to a tiny nibble of the good stuff if it happened to fall off the table (not too much - I am far more adept at safeguarding the waitlines of the hounds than I am my own, sadly!). Needless to say, there would be a cheese board.
Christmas is a big deal, let's face it. Bigger than it needs to be. But Christmas food shopping is a nightmare visited upon society with such power to unleash our basest, most violent instincts that it requires serious consideration and strategy. Think you can wander in with a basket waving merrily, taking your time and picking the choicest offerings having given full consideration to all the senses and having thought out the possible appreciates or requirements of all those you hold dear whilst in the shop, puzzling over each and every purchase? Forget it. You'll take what's left and if you don't get out of the way quickly enough you'll find yourself exited stage left in your own trolley, with someone else's basket wrapped around your head, by a normally meek and sedate librarian hell-bent on getting the last sprout.
Mr Rarr and I planned to do the bulk of our food shopping at Waitrose on the day before Christmas Eve. It was merry hell - and this is Waitrose. We don't do the blatant all-out thuggery of Tesco Christmas shoppers, we glare viciously and smile in a fake, snide way whilst thinking "go and rot" whilst our mouths say "Merry Christmas" to the git who takes the last pot of brandy butter.
With the turkey already sorted and the veg in the trolley (we know how to prioritise - the booze was sorted long before!) so the main purpose of this shop was the cheese board. This was serious. I had even read articles on cheeseboard etiquette. We knew precisely what we wanted - a blue, something soft courtesy of a goat, the creamy Port Salut loved by myself and Mr Rarr, and something very English. Elbows at the ready, we entered the dairy aisle....
...NOTHING. All the things we wanted, even at the relatively reliable and safe shopping haven of Waitrose, were long gone, languishing in someone else's fridge for their enjoyment on the big day. No Port Salut - oh how close I came to sobbing, throwing myself to the ground in a fit of anguish. We had to improvise, and fast - we had already been there a full twenty seconds of our socially acceptable 90 (and that's pushing it) in front of the cheese section as we dealt with our dismay.
Our only hope was to wing it. "This?" asked Mr Rarr, holding up a Manchego we hadn't tried before. In the basket. "Bog standard goat?" asked I, given that we had sod all by way of choice. Agreed. Then I spotted a deep orange wedge of something I had never seen before, going under the name of Mimolette. "Mimo...something?" I suggested, apprehensive, but realising that nearby a shrewd-looking grandmother was checking her watch and wielding her basket in a particularly unfriendly fashion. In it went, and we were out of there, via the booze section for a nerve-steadying bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon. Thus my first experience of Mimolette cheese occurred on Christmas Day 2012.
***OKAY, WE GET IT, CHRISTMAS SUCKS AND MIMOLETTE IS ORANGE. BUT WHAT IS THIS STUFF?***
Mimolette is a hard cow cheese, pressed and pasteurized, most often produced in Lille, France. It boasts a rough, "moon-like" surface which hides a deep orange cheese, aged between two months and two years. Supposedly a young Mimolette has similarities with Parmesan, although it is most widely enjoyed when "extra old" - at which stage it has developed a nutty flavour. This is about 18 months, and I have read that once it reaches two years, this gorgeous cheese is thrown away - so for God's sake buy some! It deserves far better.
All that said about age, I have read conflicting reports about how it is enjoyed at different stages of its development - demi-vielle or "half old" is at six months and I have heard some people report it to be very hard at this stage.
If you're not into the more grim cheese producing techniques, you might want to skip this given that the lunar crust is created by the intentional exposure to cheese mites, whose collective "activity" apparently adds to the flavour. Having read that, even I might leave the rind on its own next time...
The orange colour is caused by a natural dye called annatto, and the cheese can be known as Boule de Lille (ball of Lille) for its traditional round shape. Apparently it is also produced in the Netherlands in the same style of Edam, and in the world according to Wikipedia its popularity in France is down to a certain Louise XIV. Never heard of the bloke...
Ironically the name comes from the French word for "soft" - because of how the skin is during the youth of the cheese.
***IS IT ANY GOOD?***
Whilst it probably isn't best paired with a glass of English Bacchus wine (which, by the way, is delectable - well done Chapel Down), this is what I was drinking when I first tried this cheese.
Cutting a chunk from the round-edged wedge, I met some resistance from the cheese - it is hard, but not as so as Parmesan. It did not crumble but had a pleasing, substantial texture. Intrigued still, I took a nibble.
This is a very flavoursome cheese, both sweet (in a natural, not cloying way), but also very nutty. More of a hazelnut nuttiness than a walnut, the overall flavour is earthy, slightly rich but this is countered by the texture and hardness of the cheese, and the sweetness is well-balanced and doesn't overpower the nutty quality.
This is a distinctive flavour and to bite there is resistance but again, this is not a hard cheese in the Parmesan sense, and it is suitable for a cheeseboard and biscuits if you prefer a cheese with a bit of "bite". I found it quite satisfying to nibble off a chunk but also found the overall flavour well-rounded and something that I enjoyed savouring, enjoying the taste develop and the cheese to soften slightly as I savoured it.
The cheese does become slightly harder towards the rind but the inner is probably easily grated - I haven't tried this as I enjoy eating the cheese on its own, although I must say it works very nicely with a cracker and a little butter. That said, now I think about it I could be persuaded to try this in an omelette sometime...purely for curiosity's sake, you understand....
***SO, STAYING ON THE CHEESEBOARD?***
I must say, I am really pleased I picked this up on a whim and will definitely be buying some more. Our wedge from Christmas has lasted well - in fact there is still some left, and I would say that there is a rich, buttery element to this taste that would make it hard to overindulge on it - and the taste has not deteriorated at any time as I have nibbled bits here and there.
This cheese has a flavour unlike any other I have tried and has instantly plonked itself firmly on my favourites list. It is distinctive in its appearance and will certainly have dinner guests asking you about it if they haven't been lucky enough to have tried it before. Whilst a rich cheese, on which it would be hard to gorge yourself, it is worth savouring the aftertaste which has a life of its own and plenty to offer.
I would suggest that Mimolette would be best suited to a red wine that can hold its own, maybe something fruity to counter the buttery richness of this cheese, but that a spicy Chilean red might clash with the nuttiness - but then that is of course subject to person taste. I imagine it would go nicely with a port or sherry, although these drinks aren't to my personal taste. I found it perfect for a Christmas cheese board, its unique rich flavour being suitably decadent, although I can't imagine I would fancy nibbling on this on a hot night in the height of summer (assuming we ever have one).
Overall, this is a great cheese variety that I will definitely be investing in again. Prices, as with all things cheese, range from the widely available to the buttock-clenchingly expensive! For neutrality, I am going to look to a cute little cheese trader I used to walk past on my old route to work in London - they put their 18-month matured Mimolette at £3.70 per 100g. In this weird world we live in it is even available on Amazon - if you fancy having it shipped at vast expense.
Thoroughly distinctive, this is a great cheese and I hope the cheese lovers amongst the Dooyoo faithful get to enjoy it. Happy nibbling!
Summary: A distinctive, bold and unique cheese with a great personality. If you don't mind mites.