For a long time, I had not been a fan of soft cheese. For me, firstly often the smell and secondly the texture were just too ripe to bear!
As I have grown older (though no wiser!) I have started to take more ‘risks’ with this kind of food, trying to let go of any foodie judgments based on a lack of rationality and instead trying to branch out, especially when it comes to cheese!
My first real success in this area was Chaource and this success left me wanting to try more and more unusual cheeses. Taking on Époisses de Bourgogne and Brie de Meaux would have been unthinkable for me even six months ago, so this review is testament to how awesome cheeses can be!
Having spoken to my father in law about some different cheeses, and after having tried to track down a specific cheese that Charlotte’s grandad couldn’t find but had wanted to try again after many years, I headed down to the fantastic cheese shop (The Cheeseboard) in Harrogate. I picked up a few different cheeses to try, including Brie de Meaux and Époisses de Bourgogne, along with some charcoal crackers (which apparently aid digestion!).
For those of you who have never encountered (or at least knowingly encountered!) either of these cheeses, it is fair to say that you will smell them before you see them. Sometimes that can be a wonderful thing – think bacon sandwiches or fish and chips. With these cheeses, though, it could be enough to turn your stomach, put you off for life or convince you that the baby you have with you needs a nappy change. Basically, it’s grim!
If, and I admit it is an if, you can get over this, you then get to look at the cheeses. While Brie de Meaux is very similar looking to standard Brie, it will look a bit runnier and will ooze out that little bit more. Époisses has a strange kind of orange rind that doesn’t really look that wonderful but is certainly intriguing!
Again, if you can get over this, you then get onto the real pleasure: the eating! Brie de Meaux offers a slightly harder texture closer to the rind (depending on how mature the cheese is) with the soft middle being nice, thick and creamy. That said, it is still very much a cheese that can be cut and spread with a knife.
Taste-wise, it is indulgently rich, offering a lovely aftertaste (in my opinion) of mushroom but it is far less overpowering than the smell suggests. All in all, the taste is fabulous and whilst I wouldn’t suggest sitting down and eating a whole one in one go it is a cheese that can be enjoyed with some nice wine whilst chatting to friends or loved ones who can bear the smell!
Although Brie de Meaux is indeed very tasty, Époisses is on another level in my humble opinion! Napoleon was said to be a fan and I can understand why.
Perhaps best enjoyed with a spoon, this cheese is more like a cream in texture than it is a cheddar. Rich, indlugent and bursting with a creamy flavour with a nice salty aftertaste this is a cheese that is just a pleasure to eat. Sure, you will get a little messy as you try to get some away from the rind so you can spread it on your crackers or bread but the mess and clean up is surely worth it to taste something this divine.
It’s not cheap but this really isn’t your everyday cheese. This is a cheese to enjoy with people who are feeling a little braver and who are prepared to have their socks blown off!
Categories: Cooking Experiences