So, I was wandering down to the far end of the cheese counter last Saturday, and came upon the craziest cheese. It looked like it was 100 years old, or a victim of serious teenage acne! This bright orange cheese was covered in pock marks, and just looked mysterious and ancient. I innocently asked Tony the cheesemonger how long the cheese had aged. Turns out that it had aged for 18 months, which is a relatively long time for a cheese to sit and wait in a cave. But, it wasn't age alone that made that lunar surface.
The cheese was Mimolette, from the north of France, and according to some sources, it was Charles DeGaulle's favorite cheese. While that is neither here nor there in my book, there may be some history buffs out there that will want to try it for that reason. You should try it, but not because you harbor a dream of having a huge French airport named after you, but because it is a really delicious hard, bright orange cheese with a nice sweet nuttiness that melts on your tongue and hangs out in your mouth being happy.
But you should know that there is someone else out there that loves this cheese. Actually, it's not someone, but something. Remember the craters on the rind that make it look a little like a cantaloupe? They don't grow there on their own. There is a very specific little critter that loves Mimolette almost as much as I do, and they're called cheese mites! These little mites love the rind of this cheese, and while the cheese is aging in its cave, these little mites burrow in and have a serious snack in the rind. Some people say that they even help make the cheese taste better. Who knows if this is true. There is a little bit of "cheese dust" residue that you need to brush away that might be a delicacy... Some say it imparts a bit of minty-ness, but I didn't taste that. I just think it tastes great with a little Pinot Noir. They also say that the mites are gone by the time it gets to your local cheesemonger. I sure hope that's true! But in any case, there is no way that the mites get any further than the incredibly hard rind. I promise.
So gnaw away. This is a great cheese, even if it has some weird little friends.
And if you aren't afraid of some bad bug dreams, check this out. Cheese mites were the subject of the very first science film... More recently, they were magnified 100x for a slightly more graphic effect.
Mwa ha ha ha!