Pumpkin-orange with a dusty rind pocked by tiny cheese mites, Mimolette is a creepy-looking cheese. But like Elvira, her spookiness is overshadowed by her seductive allure. Her flavors are rich with deep, toasty notes of butterscotch and a distinct tang. Here’s everything you need to know about this classic French cheese, from her origin story to the best Mimolette pairings.
What is Mimolette?
Mimolette is a pumpkin-orange cow’s milk cheese from Normandy in northern France. It’s sold at a wide range of ages, from creamy, melty 3-month wheels that are great for cooking, to the deeply complex, crunchy sex machine that is 24-month Mimolette. The older varieties are extremely hard to find in America, but if you get your claws on a piece, it’s a damn delicacy.
The Origin Story
Once upon a time, the French used to import a lot of cheese like Gouda and Edam from Holland, but during the 17th century Franco-Dutch war, the French government basically said, “nah, we’re good on that” and ceased the imports. Instead, they decided to create their own version of these Dutch delicacies, only they wanted theirs to have a distinctive color. They used a similar recipe and added annatto, a plant-based coloring that doesn’t add any taste or smell, and voila! Mimolette was born.
What are Cheese Mites?
A lot of people are freaked out by the fact that Mimolette is literally ripened with mites, but a lot of cheeses come in contact with these little dudes. Cheese mites are tiny little bugs that live on the rinds of aged cheeses. They’re usually kind of a nuisance that cheesemakers vacuum off, but they’re essential for making Mimolette. These little bugs munch on the molds growing on the rind, burrowing into the cheese and creating tiny holes that help aerate the surface of cheese helping it age and mature into the tangy little snack we know and love. The rind, while dope, is very dry and dusty from the mites, so I don’t actually recommend eating it.
Mimolette Tasting Notes
When young, Mimolette is smooth and satisfying with a distinct tang reminiscent of the powdered sauce that comes with boxed mac. As it ages, deep notes of butterscotch and caramel emerge. Older wheels even develop crunchy crystals, which are actually amino acid clusters.
The Best Mimolette Pairings
- Dark, malty beer with lots of nutty notes, like stout or porter.
- Big fruity reds like Pinot Noir or Zinfandel
- Hard cider, especially one from Normandy
- Toasted nuts, especially pistachios, and, even more especially, pistachio butter
- Sage and rosemary in a recipe or on a cheese plate
- Dried figs, which complements Mimolette’s caramel sweetness
- Apple slices
- Buckwheat honey
- Charcuterie, like country pâté or saucisson sec
Want more tips on how to serve Mimolette?
Thanks to my friends at Isigny Ste-Mère for sending me a little Mimolette to worship this month!