Saturday, September 6, 2008

Epoisses, king of all cheeses

I'm in the midst of making some more pepper and onion confit, so I'm hoping I don't scorch this batch like I did the last time.

So I was grocery shopping at Wegmans early this morning, trying to avoid the hurricane-overreacting crowd. Now, I will *always* walk past the cheese shop/showcase because A) I love cheese and B) there's a 75% chance they're doing some sort of sampling. Sadly, no such luck this morning, but I did notice they had little rounds of cheese in a wooden little box with a sign that said "Just Arrived". I'm a sucker for signage, so I look closer, and what is it? EPOISSES!!!

It's a cow's milk (unpasteurized!) cheese that is then ripened while being washed down with some local French brandy. It's also hand-scrubbed to make sure all the lovely bacteria get spread all over the surface of the rind that forms. If you want to know more, check out what Wikipedia has to say. When I've had it, I've had it on a tiny cracker with some dried fruit or quince paste. It's creamy and pungeant, with a bit of a tang from the salt and the brandy they wash it with. Quite simply, if you're a fan of cheese, this is the real deal and you owe it to yourself to go try and find some.

Two things you should be warned about with Epoisses:
1) The price: For a little wheel about 6 inches in diameter was $25. It's well worth it, in my opinion, but it is more for special occasions than everyday eating.
2) The smell: Epoisses was voted 'worlds smelliest cheese' back in 2004. It smells in a most delicious and pervasive way, but it will definitely smell up your entire refrigerator if you don't take care of it.

Brillat-Savarin (who was so influential in the development of French gastronomy that they named a cheese after him) referred to epoisses as king of all cheeses. I am inclined to agree.


Stephanie said...

Is this the cheese that smells like a barn to me?