Disclaimer: If I could marry cheese, this is the cheese I would marry.

Stats: French (Burgundy) washed rind cheese.
Bought from: Le Marche du Quartier

Epoisse is a cheese of legend. If you google for it, you’ll find a thousand websites listing it in their TOP 10 EXTREME FOODS, or SMELLIEST CHEESES I HAVE KNOWN. It’s reputed to be banned on French public transport – the durian fruit of the cheese world – although I can only find this fact repeated, not substantiated anywhere.

It’s also one of my favourite cheeses, and this cheese-blogging lark seemed like a as good a reason as any to buy another box of it. We had it after dinner, on some thinly sliced bread, and we had a nice but unexciting red wine with it.

This is runnier than the one I ate

This is runnier than the one I ate

The first thing I noticed, as I grabbed it from where it’s been getting up to room temperature, is that the box proclaims that it’s made from lait pasteurisé. WHAT? This cheese is meant to be made from raw milk! Possibly this is intended for strange and benighted places that don’t allow raw-milk soft cheeses? (A later Google suggests that pasturised Eposse is produced for the American market.) I was a smidge miffed at having a safer, less bacteria-ful cheese-eating experience ahead of me. Upon tearing off the plastic covering (this is to protect the outside from the stench of the cheese, I’m sure), I find that it’s not a particularly ripe cheese. This is probably my fault too – I bought it in a hurry. I should have stopped and squidged and looked for a riper one. And I should have read the box properly.

A very ripe Epoisse needs to be spooned from its box. This cheese is can still be extracted in squishy slices. The texture is more like a sticky, gummy dough. The orange rind melts into the cheese, and when I eat a piece the cheese melts and coats the inside of my mouth very easily. This younger Epoisse is not as pungent as the runny stuff, and does not burn my mouth at all. It’s also not as boozy as a riper epoisee, but still very creamy and sock-ish. There’s also a slight taste of lemon-rind, I think – something citrussy, but more bitter than sour. There’s also a sourness, but it’s more of a buttermilk taste than a lemonish one. It’s predominatly sweet and creamy, though. The rind nibbled alone is crumblier and slightly waxy in texture. It’s salty and slightly earthy in taste – darker and more mellow than the cheese.

This is the sort of cheese that really likes to be consumed with wine (although I might try it with beer next time). The acidity of the wine cuts through the creaminess of the cheese very well. There’s an interesting sweet aftertaste, when you scoff a mouthful of cheese and follow it with a glug of wine. The sweet creamy cheese mingles with the vanilla tones in the wine, and it tastes like caramelly, fudgey white chocolate.

My cheese-scoffing chum declared it to be ‘surprisingly elastic, rich and fruity, slight meatiness, a little bit tart, very mouth-filling, but insufficiently sulphurous’. (He cheated a bit, and read up on washed rind cheeses for that last observation.)

Conclusion:I was disappointed with this cheese, because I had been all day looking forward to wallowing in a puddle of stench. It’s still really good cheese; if it were any other cheese I’d have loved it. I should mention that despite being a tad sad about the lack of stinkiness, we still mananged to eat the whole box in one sitting, and we are such hardened cheese pigs that we barely felt ashamed of ourselves.

I still want to marry this cheese, but I’ll wait until it’s slightly older.