Monday 1 June 2015

Cheese Glorious Cheese

I love cheese. All types--hard cheese; soft cheese; stinky cheese. What makes cheese stink anyway? 

All cheese starts off basically in the same manner, with curds and whey. It’s a process as old as the centuries. But what makes some cheese so stinky as to be banned from public transportation?

The two main factors that provide cheese its aroma are aging, also known as ripening, and washing. The longer the cheese ages, the stronger the odour. Washing is another method that intensifies the aroma; common washes include rum, beer and salt water. The combination of aging and washing, is therefore, what can produce some intense pong.

But does strong odour affect the taste of the cheese?

“I always like to say with cheese, its bark is bigger than its bite, meaning the smell is stronger than the taste,” says Afrim Pristine, owner off  Cheese Boutique in Toronto.

With that in mind, grab your nose plugs, a baguette, your favourite wine or beer, and give these cheeses from around the globe a try.

Limburger, Belgium and Germany
Limburger Cheese
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Originally created in the Duchy of Limburg, this cheese ages in the bacteria Brevibacterium linens, which, by the way, is the same bacteria found in body and foot odour. Limburger cheese ages for three months at which time is becomes spreadable. The most traditional way to eat Limburger cheese is to spread it on a fairly solid bread such as rye, top it with a slice of onion and wash it all down with a beer.

Epoisses de Bourgogne, France
Époisses de Bourgogne.jpg
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Said to be a favourite of Napoleon’s, Epoisses de Bourgogne has been made in central France since the 1700s. The odour from this cheese is so strong that it has reportedly been banned from France’s public transportation system. During its six week aging process, the cheese is washed with a mixture of water and Marc de Bourgogne brandy. The brandy is what gives the cheese its delicate flavour and the primary source of the cheese’s strong stench. To best enjoy this cheese, pair it with acidic fruits such as pears, apples and figs. Nuts and a good wine are also good picks.

Vieux Boulogne, France

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Also known as SablĂ© du Boulonnais, this soft yet firm cheese is an unpasteurized cows’ milk cheese with a red-orange washed rind. It ages anywhere from seven to nine weeks and is washed in beer. It was rated as the world’s stinkiest some years back, but despite its odourous smell, Vieux Boulogne does not have a sharp taste. Rather it is mild and rich and best enjoyed with a good quality beer or even Champagne. It’s French, after all, so why not?

Stinking Bishop, England
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The name of this cheese says it all. This is a cows’ milk cheese made in Gloucestershire, in the southwest of England, since 1972. This cheese ages up to two months, during which time it is immersed every few weeks in perry made of local Stinking Bishop pears, giving the cheese its distinct pungent odour. A pear-flavoured liqueur works well as a drink option with this cheese, as does a good local beer.

Palpusztai, Hungary
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This cheese is also created by the bacterium Brevibacterium linens. First made in Hungary in the 1890s, Palpusztai is a soft cows’ milk cheese, runny and outright stinky. Because of its high ammonia content, it has been known to bring tears to the eyes. But fear not. Get over the heady smell, grab a good, strong ale and do like the locals.


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