Washed Rind – Aromatic and Addictive

Taleggio cheese from Italy

Welcome to Part Six of the “Cheese In Depth” Series.  Previously, we explored the decadent and delicious world of Soft Ripened Cheese.  Next, we’ll take a closer look at the delectable realm of funky, stinky cheeses – the Washed Rind style.

During aging, cheeses are wiped, or smeared, with a brine solution to retain moisture and promote growth of b. linens.
As a child, I remember watching Pepe LePew and his tray of cheese with curlicue tendrils of stink rising up.  Today, I’m sure the cheese on that tray must have been a member of the Washed Rind family.

For the uninitiated, the aroma — which can range from mildly earthy to musty old gym socks — can be quite disconcerting.  Is it supposed to smell like that?   Absolutely!

Rule #1 with Washed Rind: they don’t taste like they smell!
For those in the know, these cheeses are sublime gems of cheesemaking artistry, suffused with the most complex, earthy, savory flavors imaginable and a soft, yielding texture that is sheer bliss.

Washed rind cheeses are also known as Monastic cheeses because they were first produced over 700 years ago in the Monasteries and Abbeys of Northern Europe, especially the Alsace and Burgundy regions of France.  The cheeses were a full-flavored meat substitute for hungry parishioners during a time when there were over 100 meatless “fast” days on the Catholic calendar each year.

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