Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Product Review: Isigny Ste. Mère: Mimolette Cheese

If you've been following this blog from the beginning, you may recall that I've mentioned mimolette cheese once before.[1] It is a hard cheese that has an appearance similar to a cantaloupe. What makes it unique is its rind. The cheesemakers will actually put a special variety of mites, called cheese mites [2], onto the outside of the cheese. The mites eat the exterior of the cheese as it ripens, to a depth of about a centimeter. Aficionados claim that this endows the cheese with a unique flavor. Several websites I checked assured me that by the time the cheese is sold, the cheese mites are no longer alive (and you're not supposed to eat the rind where they're found anyway). Some even claimed that it is illegal to sell the cheese in the U.S. if the mites are still alive (I haven't been able to verify that claim.) But, being an amateur entomologist, I just had to check. So I popped a suspicious-looking section of the rind under a confocal microscope and took a look.

This is what I found:

The photos are in focus, but it's still hard to make out the individual mites.

So I took some videos, too. Cute little buggers, aren't they?

My verdict: This cheese is very hard—the cheese slicer couldn't handle it, so I had to resort to a knife. The flavor was like an aged cheddar, but nuttier—like Cheshire cheese.[3] I tried grating it over a baked potato, which was pretty good—though after I added chili, sour cream, green onions, and Anaheim pepper (from our garden [4]), it was pretty diluted. I also tried it stirred into some scrambled eggs, which was good. And it was fine to eat with a raw tomato and some grapes. Ultimately, you can use this cheese pretty much the same way you use cheddar—as long as you can overlook the fact that you're eating dead (and possibly some living) mites.


[1] See here.

[2] Acarus siro, to be precise.

[3] Read my review of that cheese here.

[4] Read about our garden here.

Image attributions:

Video of Acarus siro is by Ninjatacoshell, available at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Acarus siro 1.ogg. (See http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Acarus siro 2.ogg for a longer video.)


  1. I can't believe how many kinds of cheese you have been able to find and try.

  2. If you get the chance, pop into a Harmons and you'll see more cheeses than your average grocery store carries.

  3. AHHHH!! Matthew Ben! Those things were still crawling all over that cheese you put into your body?? Eckkk. Leann...I hope this conveys my feelings effectively. ;)

  4. Yes, Ashley, I did. You mean you wouldn't?

  5. If I was aware that those teeny tiny little bugs were still worming their way through my food...NO!!!

  6. You'd rather pretend they're not there, like the bugs in your morning cereal?