When I found out that today, October 9th, is Moldy Cheese Day, well, I had to do it justice with a feature about an artisan cheese shop in San Luis Obispo that came on my radar during a recent trip to California’s Central Coast wine region.
If the idea of moldy cheese causes you pause, here are five fast facts to celebrate these complicated cheeses, especially those with wonderfully wrinkly rinds.
- Mold spores protect the cheese from bacteria so you want them on there and lots of them!
- Molds on the outside of cheese produce an enzyme that makes the cheese just inside the rind super ooey gooey.
- Be sure to eat the rind! It holds a lot of the flavor.
- Molds have been added to cheeses for thousands of years and are added at various stages of the cheese making process.
- Without mold, we might not be able to make aged cheeses at all so if you like any cheese, give moldy cheese a try!
What attracted me to Fromagerie Sophie, besides an undying love for cheese, was their lovely story. I, too, adore Paris and as an advocate of whole food, knowing where your food comes from, eat local, farm to fork, etc. – the traditional way Parisians shop for food – going from one specialty store or stall to the next – speaks to our ilk.
“On Christmas eve we sat outside, all bundled up, at a local café on Rue Montorgueil (in the 1er and 2er arrondissement: Montorgueil – Saint Denis-Les Halles district), taking in the energy and excitement of everyone shopping for their Christmas day. Maybe it was the real French Champagne I was sipping on… Or the French beer that Paul enjoyed that crafted the many thoughts to come to us over time… Or maybe it was a combination of so many things: watching everyone shop daily at their local markets—the gorgeous fresh meats at the boucheries, fresh fish at the poissonneries, breads right out of the ovens at the boulangeries, the beautiful and artistically decorated cakes and pastries at the pâtisseries, flowers at the fleuristes, the little boutiques that sold regional produce, and last but not least, the cheeses from the fromageries. And the most amazing part of the two weeks in Paris, was spending it with Paul, reconnecting all that mattered to us both. It was a very romantic trip in many ways. We learned to love again the simplicity of life through one another, food, wine, family and friends.”
La Fermette, Rue Montorgueil, Paris
***Langres: Pasteurized cow’s milk, traditional rennet, aged 5 weeks- Tribalat Germain- Langres de Champenois region of France
Receives washings of marc de Champagne during its ripening period of 15-21 days. The rind is colored with annatto. It features a curdy and slightly springy texture with smooth, subtle flavors, and a long finish.
Pairs with: Laetitia Brut Rosé and or Chamisal Vineyards Rosé and Peloton Cellars Pinot and 2015 Grenache
***Shropshire Blue: Pasteurized cow’s milk, traditional rennet- Neal’s Yard Dairy-Colston Bassett and District Dairy, Colston Bassett, Nottinghamshire, England
In short, this cheese is an orange Stilton tinted orange with annatto. Made at the Coslton Bassett Dairy. As Colston Bassett are some of the last Stilton-makers to hand ladle the curd of their cheese from the vats to the draining tables where it acidifies over & they also do the same thing for their Shropshire Blue.
Creamy, savory cheese with a slight yeasty bite from the blueing.
Pairs with: Chamisal Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2014, Edna Valley
*** Soumaintrain: Pasteurized cow, traditional rennet, washed-rind with Marc de Bourgogne, aged about 2 months- Berthaut- Soumaintrain (province of Yvonne), Burgundy France, northwest of Dijon
A farmhouse washed-rinded cheese with a very soft, buttery interior. Cheeses are soft and allowed to drain naturally during production. Soumaintrain is only washed with brine (salted water) which gives the rind a white to orange coloration. It is naturally wrinkled and lightly floral. This cheese has a smooth consistency is soft to the touch, and its flavor is typical of cheeses from the region: quite strong and sweet in the mouth. The Its flavor is reminiscent of heavy cream with a delightful tang. Won the Gold Medal in Paris in 2013.
Pairs with: Cambria Estate Wines 2015 Seeds of Empowerment Chardonnay and Peacock Cellars 2014 Viognier Paso Robles
Laurent Dubois Fromager, Paris
According to Sophie: Some molds have a peppery taste. Others have an intense flavor that includes a bit of bitterness. That bitterness enhances the fruity characteristics of the wine. Once your mouth is covered by the cheese and the flavors have bloomed, you then take a sip of the wine. The wine washes away some of the cheese and mold, reducing those favors to something not so strong. Then the wine’s flavors slowly overtake the peppery and bitter flavors. During this flavor transition, your palate is pleased by the introduction of the sweet and fruity flavors from the wine. Once your mouth tastes like the wine again, it is tempting to toss in another piece of cheese, and repeat. We call this, “fun.”
Yes! Now go have some fun experimenting with moldy cheeses and wine pairings!
♦ Have a delicious week ♦