The Hollies Cheese of the Month this March is Mimolette; an unusual, spherical cheese with a rough surface and bright orange interior.
It is believed that Mimolette can be traced to the 17th century, specifically to the rule of King Louis XIV. His chief minister, Colbert, had banned the import of many foreign goods, such as Edam cheese. In Flanders, the northernmost region of France where the villagers had strong cultural ties to Holland, Edam was especially missed. Desiring what was forbidden, Edam was smuggled into France against the King’s decree. In time, the defiant French subjects began to make their own cheese from the same basic recipe, adding their own twist. To make it distinct from Edam, they seasoned it with annatto to give it a sweet and nutty flavour and an orange colour.
The cheese is made from the pasteurised milk of a diverse breed of cows that feed on grasses and herbs. The truckles are matured in a damp cellar and turned weekly. At the same time the surface is brushed to remove cheese mites that feast upon its surface. The greyish crust of aged Mimolette is the result of cheese mites intentionally introduced to add flavour by their action on the surface of the cheese. (Don’t worry though, the mites are long gone before we get the cheese!)
Wine suggestion; the sweet taste of Mimolette pairs delightfully with the acidity of a Châteauneuf-du-Pape.