Mimolette Cheese: The Hidden Gem From France
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A mature Mimolette is easily identifiable by its cannonball form, brilliant orange colour, and rugged peel, which is caused by microscopic cheese mites burrowing into the surface, resulting in distinct flavours and sensations.

The cheese was created in Flanders during the 17th-century Franco-Dutch conflict (perhaps at the behest of King Louis XIV). Holland refused to sell its famed Edam cheese to France, so they created their own copycat version, adding the orange colour annatto to distinguish it. The cheese is also known as Boule de Lille, after the city where it was originally aged.

What Is Mimolette Cheese?

Mimolette is an aged French cheese characterised by its brilliant orange colour, approximately spherical form, and pitted natural rind. Mimolette is a hard, sharp cheese that varies in flavour from mild to sweet and harsh depending on its age. Once cut open, Mimolette wheels resemble sliced melon.

Mimolette's colour was originally derived from carrot juice, but today, annatto seed is utilised to generate its trademark deep orange colour.

Mimolette also has a distinctive rind on which moulds and other beneficial microbes can develop organically during the affinage, or ageing, process. Cheese mites, tiny arachnids that seem like dust grains to the human eye, also live and eat cheese rinds. Frequently, the cheesemaker or affineur treats the outside of the wheels to eliminate or reduce the action of cheese mites. Mimolette, on the other hand, introduces cheese mites to the cheese and allows them to burrow their way into the rind while being monitored by the affineur, giving the cheese its trademark pockmarked texture and intensifying the flavour by allowing moisture to escape.

The cheese was briefly barred from being imported into the United States in 2013 because it included more cheese mites per cubic inch of product than the maximum, which can cause allergic reactions in certain people if ingested in high amounts. The restriction was eventually removed the following year.

How Does It Taste?

Mimolette has a characteristic nutty and tangy flavour that is quite noticeable even when the cheese is young. It has a tiny fruity undertone at times, but it is extremely weak. As the cheese ages, the fruitiness becomes more prominent, while the nuttiness deepens, resulting in a more nuanced and pungent flavour profile.

Mimolette Texture

Mimolette is a hard cheese that has a smooth, buttery, but thick and chewy feel. Ironically, its name is derived from the French "mi-mou," which means "semi-soft" - a clear allusion to the cheese's overall velvety quality while being hard.

Mimolette hardens fast, so even the young, 2-month-old cheese should be firm to the touch and not change form much when squeezed. However, when Mimolette matures, it gradually loses its distinctive butteriness. Mimolette, like most other hard cheeses, gets increasingly crumbly and gritty as it matures, with an 18-24-month-old version resembling Parmesan.

Its uneven, rough-to-the-touch natural rind is speckled with tiny holes, in contrast to its smooth inside. The rind is renowned for being tough to break and thick.

How To Use Mimolette?

Savour mimolette as a table cheese with earthy, rustic red wines, and strong beers such as Scotch ales, barley wines, or bourbon. Shave it to add richness and vibrant colour to a crisp green salad dressed with a bold vinaigrette. To add flavour to gratins, macaroni and cheese, and other baked or melted cheese dishes, shredded Mimolette can be used. It's not a great melter by itself, thus it should be combined with a softer, milder cheese.