WHAT IS MIMOLETTE?
Originally mimolette was inspired by the Dutch cheese Edam. Which is why mimolette’s nickname is Old Hollande. The French King Louis XIV commissioned the creation of mimolette as a domestic substitute for Dutch Edam. Today though it is one of the more controversial fromages on our site. Mimolette looks like a fossilized bowling ball of cheese due to the outside of the rind being pitted. Part of the cheese making process is to allow mites to feast on the skin of the cheese.
As the cheese ages it becomes hard to the point of breaking knives when you try to cut one down (if you’re not careful). Even though this cheese has literally been imported into the USA for decades, around 2013 the F.D.A. suddenly blocked mimolette imports due to health concerns that the cheese was made using mites. While F.D.A. is staffed for the most part with good people who have thanklessly hard jobs, why the risk was greater than in previous decades was unclear.
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WHERE IS MIMOLETTE MADE?
Traditionally this P.D.O. is made in northern France around the city of Lille. Though there are other producers in greater Normandy. The city of Lille has been described as one of the most “underrated” in France. Visit here to see the influence the Flemish have had on French culinary culture. The traditional coq au vin is instead coq à la bière!
THE DEADLIEST PIECE OF CHEESE KNOWN TO MAN?
Well, first of all cutting one of these aged wheels is no easy task. Most expensive knives will snap pretty quickly if you’re not careful. A medieval dagger or mini-crowbar might be more appropriate for cracking one of these open. The trick professionals use is to open a mimolette is the same as with a Parmesan Reggiano. Ignoring sharp pieces of metal flying towards your face, though, the F.D.A. also banned this cheese for a while. Their concern was that the concentration of cheese mites (used to give the rind its’ pockmarked crust) could kill people due to an allergic reaction. The acceptable level of 6 mites per cubic inch which is impossible unless you want to have a smooth mimolette rind.
WHAT CAN I PAIR WITH MIMOLETTE?
Surprisingly melons like cantaloupe are very popular pairing when serving slices of this fromage. For wines look to Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti to complement this cheese. In creating a French cheese flight, the color of this cheese is a great contrast. Try a nice brie and a slice of Cantal or aged Comte to balance this out for a cow’s milk oriented plate. For a more international cheese flight, try an Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta and a Greek barrel aged feta.