THE Cheese from Alsace: Munster

13 02 2009

If you Google “Alsace cheese” or something along those lines, one name comes up repeatedly: Munster.  Browsing the cheese displays of most French supermarkets will yield the same results.  Considering this is a major, AOC-class French cheese, there is surprisingly little information about it available on the interwebs, at least in English.  (For one of the most poorly written Wikipedia articles I’ve ever seen, click here.)

What I have been able to determine is that it is an unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese with a fat content of 45%.  It is aged 10 weeks or so, and during that time the rind is washed with a saltwater solution.

Munster photo by Nick

What I learned from bringing half a cheese home with me is that Munster stinks.  This is normal, and to be expected with washed-rind cheeses, but this one is particularly pungent.  Nick went so far as to call the smell “bathroom-y” while I prefer the slightly more appetizing description, “barnyard-y.”  As in, perhaps, stables that haven’t been cleaned in a while.  The smell notwithstanding, the cheese is delicious.  The creamy pâte is loaded with earthy flavors, mushroomy and herbaceous, bordering on meaty.  The rind is edible, though strong enough that I prefer to cut off a bit of it so as to better appreciate the subtlety of the cheese inside.

We’d better eat the rest of it soon, because I think the eggs are starting to have an identity crisis – you would, too, if you woke up smelling like that.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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