Although it might not be that easy to admit, but the truth is that a smelly cheese is not always the one which has gone bad in your fridge. On the contrary, you may hear a queer gourmet praising its rich bouquet of fresh tastes veiled in a distinctive fume. This is the case when you should not judge a stinking cheese by its scent. Be ready to reveal the original flavors that make the odiferous stinkers just out of this world.
Generally the term “stinky” is used to denote a variety of cheeses referring to the washed rind family. It means that in the process of aging, which takes from 4 weeks to 4 months, a cheese is repeatedly dunked into a saltwater or alcohol (wine, beer, brandy, cider etc.) brine. The washing procedure adds some orange or reddish hues to the rind and creates a special environment on its surface, where the particular kind of bacteria grows. It is known as B.linens and it develops those complex and strong aromas of the stinkers. By the way, the same bacteria is responsible for the smell of human sweat, so it is not harmful. The more the cheese is rinsed, the more intensive odor and taste it will get. Despite their assertive barnyard smell, cheeses with washed rinds usually possess a wide well-balanced array of more delicate, though still pungent, flavors of nuts, mushrooms, grass, butter and fruit. The texture ranges from rather firm and granular to soft and runny.
The history of washed rind cheeses began in the Middle Ages. Monks were keeping the fast and abstaining meat. In its turn, cheese, made by monks themselves, was a great source of protein for them. The profit from selling it helped them run their monasteries. Following the tradition, Livarot cheese has been manufactured in French Normandy for about 600 years. Originally it was circled with rush leaves. Such natural wrapping gave the cheese its nickname “the Colonel”. Its paste is soft and springy, with tiny holes. The taste is a perfect combination of tangy nuttiness with salty and lemony hints.
Reblochon is a soft cow’s cheese from Savoie, France. The origins of its name trace back to the 13th century, when local herdsmen had to give the milk to their landlords. Smart folks gave away only a part of it and milked the cows for the second time or reblochaient after the controllers had left. The cheese is very subtle and creamy, with strong herbal smack. The French Reblochon cheese substitute in the US is called Fromage de Savoie made from pasteurized, not raw, milk.
French Morbier can be easily recognized by its decorative grey line made with natural vegetable dye, imitating the original layer of ash. The cheese has springy supple texture and dense creamy taste with fruity notes and bitterish aftertaste.
Chaumes cheese popularity both among children and adults is no surprise due to its fabulous flavor characteristics. Chaumes smells rather pungent, but it does not stink, and its odor enhances its outstanding meaty smack and rich nutty aftertaste.
Langres cheese is famous for its small size, cylindrical shape and an indentation or “fontaine”, as the French call it, at the top of the cheese, used to pour marc or champagne in it. The interior is creamy and unctuous. Langres tastes delicately salty, adding mellow fruity hues to the finish.
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