Tag Archives: French cheese

Goodbye Mimolette?

Oh mitey, mitey Mimolette… will we ever see you in the USA again?

As some of you know, the FDA has seized incoming shipments of Mimolette from France. This cheese, identical – as far as we know – to the tons of Mimolette imported and eaten in the USA every year, will likely be destroyed and no one will want to take a chance on importing more of it. Just like that, a cheese made for a couple of centuries disappears…

Cheese mites are integral to the aging process of Mimolette. (See the latest Culture Magazine for a detailed article about this. I do not believe it is currently online). I understand that cheese mites (and all mites) are allergens (as is milk), but I do not know of any recent studies that show an increase of cheese mite-related allergies involving consumption of cheese or a new environmental review of the affect of the importation of mites, and – so far as I know – the FDA is not giving further explanation of their decision.

(I did, however, find that there is a condition known as “Grocer’s Itch” related to mites in food. Hmmmmm.)

Will other foods and cheeses be affected? (and cheese pros, let’s not give them any suggestions in the comment section in case they read this, ok?) What will happen next is unclear. This is, however, potentially a huge issue.

In remembrance, here is a pictorial retrospective of the life of Mimolette, told in chronological order:

Forming
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I wanted to bob for Mimolette, but was told it was not allowed. Damn HACCP!
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Bowling anyone?
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Getting dusty
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Look at all that mite “dust”!
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It is not easy to stay long in the Mimolette aging room. Ammonia City!
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Extra aged and ready to go:
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Le Puits d’Astier

Some cheese is just so pretty it speaks for itself.

puits d'astiers

Ready for its close-up.
puits d'astiers close

Tomme d’Abondance

I’ve always thought this cheese was underrated and super cute. It’s in that Alpine cheese category that I love so much, but it’s less well known than many others from that region, at least here in the U.S. Though it varies by producer, affineur, etc. it can be about the spiciest of the French Alp cheeses with that aged sweet onion taste I associate more with cheeses from the Swiss side of the border.

Look at these beauties: DSC01162

Supposedly the history of this dates back to the 14th Century when Monks made this style of cheese. But you don’t need to study up on this cheese to enjoy it. I’m sure this is not true 100% of the time,* but, generally, darker the wash on the outside, the stronger the cheese. This actually holds true with the Vermont versions of this cheese – Tarentaise by Thistle Hill and Spring Brook – and there is a scientific basis for this so I’ll stay with it until proven otherwise.

Right now we have about the strongest Abondance that we’ve ever had but I like it in all its permutations. The blonder rinded ones are incredibly nutty and grassy, the dark pink sticky ones are big, intense, and powerful. And cute.

Did I mention cute? Look at these indented rinds with the little lips:
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As Mojo Nixon would say, That’s “not no fool Billy Idol lip either”**

*We’ve never regularly sold this cheese so I do not consider myself an expert on it. In 19 years of mongering we’ve probably sold less than 2000 lbs.
**