Cheese Fest

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February 26th, 2017 Posted 8:10 pm

Époisses lays claim to being the smelliest cheese in the world. So smelly and offensive, that open carry is forbidden on the Paris Metro… apparently.

This is how it is presented in shops:


…however, unless you purchase the whole forme, this is how it will appear when you get it home:


The origins of this cheese date back to the 16th century and those naughty Trappist monks putting alcohol in everything. The cheese is washed with a mixture of brandy and brine. Though it is highly unlikely that the monks knew it at the time, a particular strain of bacteria (brevibacterium linens), notably responsible for smelly feet, was a key part of the recipe.

A popular cheese, it continued to be manufactured by many farms in the area. Then due to WW2, production ceased. The recipe was never recorded and only passed on from generation to generation through word of mouth.

Luckily, in 1956, the Berthauts, a couple of farmers near Dijon, had the foresight to revive the cheese and sought out the last surviving individuals who knew how to make it.

Époisses has a sticky orange rind. Did I mention, it’s also rather smelly? Maybe not as bad as expected by its claim of “the world’s smelliest cheese”, but certainly very pungent. Sweaty, smelly socks with a hint of slurry. It sounds horrible but to the hardened cheese connoisseur, it’s heaven (yes, we’re weird like that ;-) ). Sometimes, there is a strong smell of ammonia, but more about that in a moment.

The inner pate is a light creamy colour and should be soft and gooey or runny depending upon ripeness.

The texture is deliciously smooth and creamy and the flavour, perhaps surprisingly, is quite delicate. The pungent aromas are still present in the taste, but very subdued. There is also a wine reaction, that so often occurs with washed cheeses, in the form of delicious fruity notes that magically appear.

A note of warning. Éposses is one of those cheeses that really needs to be stored properly in order to get the best out of it. It is therefore, highly recommended that it be purchased from a proper fromagerie. Supermarkets do sell it, but very often it will lack the expected pungency and gooey decadence. Typically, supermarket sell-by dates are too short for refrigerated storage and the cheese is not fully ripe by the date indicated. In the opposite extreme, it can also become over-ripe and bitter, the aforementioned ammonia smell is a good indicator of this.

Époisses is a real classic cheese that is famous throughout the world. Don’t let bad supermarket experiences put you off, when this cheese is good, it is awesome.

Reviewed by Nick & Olympia, 2012



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