Mimolette Vieille, $2.99/400 gms @ Milk Pail in Mountain View
Today I picked up Mimolette Vieille on special for $2.99/400 gms. The cheese was available for tasting before purchase. The pre-cut wedges are packed in cryovac. The producer is Cooperative Isigny Sainte-Mere. The labeling is in French and German.
Milk Pail Market
2585 California St, Mountain View, CA
The mimolettes that I tasted in France were eminently forgettable, as if the vibrancy of color was supposed to compensate for lack of flavor. Since I adore most French cheeses, I was astonished and sadly disappointed that this beautifully colored cheese was so boring.
So tell me, how would you describe this Mimolette Vieille? Maybe I can learn to appreciate it if I reset my expectations. (And yeah, just how hard is it?!)
Mimolette is modeled after the Dutch cheeses Gouda and Edam, but dyed orange with anatto. But it differs from those by its cantaloupe-looking rind pock-marked by the action of cheese mites. I agree that it is one of the mildest French cheeses when young and needs considerable age to show its character.
Having tasted a 5 month old Beemster Gouda today, I'd say that the Mimolette Vieille is quite a bit older than that, maybe in the 12-18 month range. The texture is close to candlewax but not yet at the salty crystalline stage. The samples that Milk Pail had out for tasting were cut evenly into small cubes that I could easily prick with a toothpick. I haven't opened my own package yet, but I think it should be easy to cut with a sharp knife if you avoid the rind.
I first tasted Mimolette about 15 years ago. This was an extra aged one (3+ years) that a friend had hand-carried back from old stock at Dean & Deluca. He paired it with a 20+ year old German Riesling Auslese, and I had to agree that it was perfection with that wine. Hard, and brittle, we chipped and shaved off pieces of the old cheese that was quite sharp, buttery, nutty, waxy, and studded with salt crystals. Many years later, we still recall that moment with reverence, referring to "The Cheese", and there is no other.
But no, the cheese at Milk Pail is not the equal of "The Cheese". This one tastes like a cross between a young gouda and a medium age Cheddar with a caramel aftertaste and a creamier paste. I think it will go well with both red or white wines. And, if you don't like it, I would suggest blending it into mac n cheese, which is the final resting place for the old odds and ends of cheese lurking in my fridge.