Halloween is that time of year, where spooky tales abound and people tell ghoulish stories. I'd like to dispel one horror story about my favourite pumpkin coloured cheese, Mimolette.
It is a round, ball-shaped fromage that comes originally from Lille, France. It is also called Boule de Lille or Vieux Hollande. And I understand that Charles de Gaulle was a big fan.
The outside texture of the whole cheese looks rough and pitted like the craters on the surface of the moon. It was invented on the request of Louis XIV, who was known as the Sun King. He wanted to have a French produced substitute for Edam, which was unavailable due to a war with the Dutch.
If you are squeamish please do not be alarmed by this next bit.
Young Mimolette is a bit of a bluh cheese, some cheese aficionados prefer to have it matured for over a year. As wheels of Mimolette mature in cellars however, tiny cheese mites (Acarus siro) like to take residence on the cheeses’ surface (which is a completely natural thing and happens to other natural rind cheeses too!). These clever mites get to work aerating the rind and make a positive contribution to its flavour. Their burrowing action causes the cheese to have a rough greyish and crusty appearance.
In 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned it, meaning stateside cheese lovers were unable to buy Mimolette. However on the upside, that meant more Mimolette for the rest of the world to enjoy! So please don't be afraid, these mites and slight imperfections will do you no harm. On the contrary, they are essential to the rind and flavour development.
When you slice the whole cheese open you discover an intense orange coloured centre. The pumpkin colour magically occurs in the cheesemaking process with the addition of annatto, which is an entirely natural colouring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana). It’s also used in product of other famous traditional cheeses like, Sparkenhoe Red Leicester and Shropshire Blue.
My own favourite Mimolette is our 12+ month aged Mimolette, which we sell online or in our shop. The texture is both hard and intense, and its taste is sweet with profound butterscotch and nutty notes.
Although it may look as if it is going to trick you, trust me it is a taste treat.
The Cheese Lady x
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