Mimolette Cheese: The Utterly Delicious Cheese You Might Not Dare Eat
I was in one of the more exclusive grocery stores when I happened to notice a bright orange wedge of cheese with a crust that looked a bit like the surface of the moon. It’s a French cheese called Mimolette. I decided to try it.
Then I read what it was and found the idea of actually eating it a bit much to stomach. Fortunately, I talked myself into “just a taste.” It is the most utterly delicious cheese I have ever tasted. I’d have to describe it as a deep flavored cheese with sweet, caramelized cheddar type taste. It also has a rather unique texture: hard and crumbly while also a bit like a fudge that smears when you touch it… Yeah, I know it contradicts. You’ll have to see for youself.
My one little taste led to another, and another….
So why the concern about eating it?
Well, it’s the bugs! Part of the process for making Mimolette cheese involves covering it with thousands of “cheese mites” to munch away at the crust while it is aging for years…. hence the deep craters in the crust of the cheese.
The mites are blown and brushed off the crust before shipping it to market, but enough of them remain that the FDA confiscated tons of the cheese being imported into the United States and banned its import in 2013. They said it was above the allowable 6 mites per square inch limit. Yet there is no established legal limit for mites on cheese.
This made the cheese sound pretty unappetizing to me until I read up on it a bit more.
Cheese mites are microscopic little bugs that live on the surfaces of aged cheeses, munching the microscopic molds that grow there. On most aged cheeses, they’re considered a nuisance and brushed off the cheeses. But for Mimolette cheese they’re actually encouraged. They aerate the cheese and help the aging process and flavor.
As I educated myself on it, there are probably no more mites on Mimolette cheese than any other good aged cheese. Mimolette just had the bad luck of coming under the hammer of the FDA and getting tons of it seized back in 2013. But then, the same thing happened to tons of orange juice simply because the label bore the word “fresh” when it was made from concentrate (which was also stated on the label).
Whatever the situation was then, it is apparently no longer banned in the US. Otherwise I could not have bought my wedge of the delicious orange cheese in a Los Angeles grocery store. The unfortunate consequence of the FDA seizure of the cheese is that you can no longer read anything about Mimolette cheese without also reading about the mites! Pity.
Mimolette cheese can be added to salads, omelets and other cooked dishes. It’s delicious on fine crackers and pairs well with Banyuls, Merlot and Sherry.
Be sure to check out our posts on what makes cheddar cheese sharp and on the difference between parmesan, romano and asiago cheese.