Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Product Review: Les 3 Comtois Morbier Cheese

Morbier cheese (pronounced MORB-yay [1]) was first developed in Franche-Comté, a region of France near the Swiss border.[2] Farmers there made Comté cheese (the French equivalent of Gruyère [3]), which is pressed into large molds. In the evening, if they didn't have enough curd to fill another mold, the farmers would sprinkle some ash over the top to prevent the curd from forming a rind.[4] The next day, after the morning milking, the rest of the mold would be filled up, trapping the layer of ash in the center. This layer of ash through the middle of the cheese is one of the distinctive characteristics of Morbier cheese.

My verdict: The rind smelled like a combination of gym socks and a National Park outhouse that has experienced moderate use. The cheese itself was creamy, with just a hint of the smell in its flavor—especially as you get closer to the rind.[5] The black grapes I ate with this cheese helped to offset the stinky flavor. I did, however, get a few bites that were stink-free and quite delectable. Some people claim that the two different layers have different qualities. I found this to be true (one was smoother and less bitter), though I couldn't tell you whether it was the top layer or the bottom layer since I'd already cut off the rind. I probably won't buy this cheese again—there are smooth cheeses out there that aren't as bitter.


[1] Sorry, but I don't dare try to come up with the IPA pronunciation for a French word.

[2] See http://www.courierpress.com/news/2011/mar/22/cheese-of-the-week/?print=1.

[3] For my review of Gruyère, see here.

[4] See http://www.artisanalcheese.com/cheeses/Morbier.

[5] I probably let this cheese sit too long in the fridge because there were orange stains (probably Brevibacterium linens) spreading down from the rind into the cheese (which you can see in the photograph). Online sources say you should eat it as soon as possible after it's been cut in order to prevent this.

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