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November 26, 2012

Washed Rind Season


Excerpts from Madame Fromage's November 20 blog post on the subject follow.

By now, you have probably seen them at cheese counters: small, moonish orange wheels wrapped in balsa wood or bark. Glory is upon us, dear ones. Thanksgiving isn't just about turkey and pumpkins; it's the season of washed rind cheeses.

These flavorful and sensuously goopy cheeses are perfect for serving around the holidays. All you do is let the cheese come to room temperature and set out some baguette rounds and celery sticks. Nothing could be easier. Forget the stodgy Brie, and go for something special and seasonal.

Washed rind cheeses wax in November and wane around March. Why the short season?

Many of these delicacies are made from raw milk, requiring an aging period of at least 60 days (in the U.S.). Sixty days ago, the cows were coming off summer pasture and beginning to eat heavier grasses. In early cheesemaking cultures, this transition often inspired a shift in recipes, from firm mountain-style cheeses to softies that accrued flavor from gentle baths of beer, brine, or hard liquor.

Those washes imbue cheese with a delicate funk and create an environment where the center of the wheel literally begins to liquefy. Vacherin Mont d'Or (above) is so soft and runny that it has to be stored in balsa wood to keep it from oozing all over.

November 26, 2012 at 11:31 PM | Permalink


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Yes. And for the most delicious, strong, even stinky, homemade cheese and kiln baked breads, try Bobolink Dairy in Milford, N.J. They even ship.


Owners Nina and Jonathan raise their own cows and bulls. Their cheeses are beyond heady. Beyond swooning. You'll be glad you did.

Posted by: Kay | Nov 27, 2012 12:31:05 PM

Be still my heart! Oh what a heady delight. A little wine, a bit of fruit and you and a loved one can while away a fall evening.

People will think me daft, but firm sliced banana, in moderation, makes a heavenly combination with this class of cheese. It is also the only time that I'll eat Thompson seedless grapes - those normally insipid white grapes - provide a nice palate cleanser.

As strong as these cheeses can be, a nice Vouvray on the sweeter side pairs well.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Nov 27, 2012 10:01:07 AM

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