What is Mimolette? The Luminous Cheese of Lille

What is Mimolette? The Luminous Cheese of Lille - Cheese Origin

Mimolette, a radiant gem of the cheese world, hails from the charming city of Lille in Northern France. This peculiarly vibrant cheese, with its lunar-like craters and intense orange hue, is an enchanting sight to behold. Mimolette’s distinct appearance is only surpassed by its equally unique taste – a harmonious blend of sweet, caramelized flavors and nutty undertones.

The cheese’s hard texture and rich, aromatic profile make it a beloved choice among cheese connoisseurs worldwide. Its origin story is as colorful as the cheese itself, born out of necessity during a time of conflict, and eventually evolving into a symbol of cultural pride for the residents of Lille. In the world of cheeses, Mimolette is indeed a luminous star, radiating warmth, character, and an unforgettable culinary experience.

Quick Facts About Mimolette

OriginLille, France
Made FromCow’s milk
TypeHard cheese
TextureFirm with small holes
ColourBright orange
AgedCan be aged from 2 months (young) to 24 months (old)
FlavorNutty and sweet with a hint of caramel
RindGreyish and rough, due to cheese mites used in the aging process
ShapeRound, similar to a cannonball
WeightUsually 2 kg, but can reach up to 4 kg
Similar ToEdam, but with a more intense flavor
PairingsGoes well with full-bodied red wines, beer, and apple cider
ServingIdeal for grating, slicing, or eating as is
StorageStore in the refrigerator wrapped in wax paper

What is Mimolette?

What is Mimolette?

Mimolette, a cheese that is as intriguing as it is delicious, has its roots in the city of Lille in northern France. At first glance, Mimolette’s striking bright orange color and round shape immediately distinguish it from other cheeses. It resembles a small cannonball, and its distinctive look is as compelling as its taste.

This unique cheese is made from cow’s milk and is known for its hard texture. The production process involves coloring the cheese with annatto, a natural dye, to achieve its vibrant hue. But what truly sets Mimolette apart is its aging process. The cheese ranges from two months for a young Mimolette, to 24 months for an old one. During this time, cheese mites are introduced to the rind, which nibble and create a rough, cratered surface that adds to Mimolette’s unique appearance.

When it comes to flavor, Mimolette doesn’t disappoint. Its taste is robust and complex, offering a nutty sweetness with hints of caramel. This flavor profile intensifies with age, making older Mimolette a real treat for the palate.

Whether served in thin slices, grated over dishes, or enjoyed on its own, Mimolette adds a touch of French tradition and culinary adventure to any meal. Paired with a full-bodied red wine, a cold beer, or even apple cider, Mimolette is a cheese that invites you to explore its rich history and exceptional taste.

What Does Mimolette Taste Like?

Mimolette is known for its distinct flavor profile that evolves with age. When young, it has a taste that resembles Parmesan, but as it matures, it develops a more complex flavor that many find similar to a well-aged cheddar.

The cheese is characterized by a nutty and tangy taste that is well-expressed even in its younger stages. As it ages, it becomes sharper and richer, with some even describing its flavor as similar to butterscotch.

There is also a hint of sweetness in Mimolette that some attribute to the cheese mites involved in its maturation process. This sweetness, combined with its intensity, can make the cheese seem somewhat akin to candy.

The texture of Mimolette is dense and smooth, adding to its overall appeal. Despite its hard nature, the interior paste of the cheese is very dense, hard, and smooth, with occasional small holes.

Mimolette Tasting Notes

  • Appearance: Mimolette is a hard cheese with a distinctive round shape that resembles a small cannonball. It has a vibrant orange interior paste contrasted by an outer rind that is grey and rough due to the cheese mites used in the aging process.
  • Texture: The cheese has a firm texture with a smooth, dense interior. There may be small holes scattered throughout. As it ages, the cheese becomes harder but maintains its smoothness.
  • Smell: Mimolette has a strong, unique aroma. The scent is often described as being similar to a musty cellar due to the presence of cheese mites during the aging process.
  • Taste: When young, Mimolette tastes mildly nutty, somewhat similar to Parmesan. As it ages, it develops a richer, more complex flavor profile. The taste becomes sharper, nuttier, and slightly sweet with hints of caramel or butterscotch.
  • Aftertaste: The aftertaste of Mimolette can linger on the palate. It is typically rich and nutty, leaving a lasting impression of its unique flavor.

How to Eat Mimolette?

  • Cheese Board: Due to its distinctive color and unique flavor, Mimolette makes an excellent addition to any cheese board. Pair it with a variety of other cheeses, crackers, fruits, and nuts for a well-rounded experience.
  • Grated Over Dishes: Mimolette can be used similarly to Parmesan cheese. Grate it over pasta, risotto, or salads for a nutty, tangy flavor boost.
  • Cooking Ingredient: Incorporate Mimolette into your cooking. It melts well and can add depth to dishes like macaroni and cheese, fondue, or quiches.
  • Thin Slices: Cut Mimolette into thin slices and enjoy it on its own, or with a piece of baguette. Its rich flavor can truly shine when eaten this way.
  • Pairings: Mimolette pairs well with full-bodied red wines, beer, and apple cider. It also complements fruits such as apples and pears, making it a versatile cheese for various food and drink combinations.
  • Dessert Cheese: Given its sweet undertones, Mimolette can also be served as a dessert cheese. Pair it with a sweet wine or port for a delightful end to a meal.

Why is Mimolette so Expensive?

5 reasons why Mimolette is expensive in relative to other cheeses:

  1. Production Process: Mimolette is made following a complex process that includes the washing of curds to remove lactose, which helps keep the pH relatively high. This process requires careful attention and expertise, contributing to the cost.
  2. Aging Process: The cheese is aged for an extended period, during which cheese mites are allowed to burrow through the cheese, promoting airflow and flavor development. This aging process adds to the cost due to the time and resources required.
  3. Cheese Mites: The use of cheese mites in the maturation process has led to import restrictions in some countries, like the United States. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has held shipments of Mimolette due to concerns about these mites. These restrictions can increase the price due to reduced availability and increased import costs.
  4. Artisan Production: Mimolette is often produced by artisan cheesemakers, which generally means more hands-on production and therefore higher costs.
  5. Weight and Size: Mimolette is typically sold in large sizes, often weighing about 2 kg (approximately 4.5 pounds). This can make the upfront cost seem high, even though the price per pound may be comparable to other premium cheeses.

10 Best Mimolette Substitutes

SubstituteDescriptionBest Used In
GoudaA Dutch cheese with a similar texture and slightly sweet, nutty flavor.Cheese boards, melting into dishes.
EdamAnother Dutch cheese, less sweet but still nutty and firm.Sandwiches, salads, soups.
CheddarA widely available cheese with a strong, distinctive flavor.General cooking, cheese boards, sandwiches.
ColbyAn American cheese similar to cheddar but milder and more elastic in texture.Melting into dishes, sandwiches.
CantalA French cheese with a firm texture and mild, milky flavor.Cheese boards, grating over dishes.
ComtéA French cheese with a complex, nutty flavor and dense texture.Cheese boards, grating over dishes.
BeaufortA hard, French cheese known for its slightly sweet, buttery flavor.Grating over dishes, fondue.
EmmentalA Swiss cheese that is firm and slightly sweet with characteristic holes.Fondue, sandwiches, salads.
JarlsbergA Norwegian cheese that’s nutty and slightly sweet, similar to Swiss cheese.Sandwiches, cheese boards, salads.
MaasdamA Dutch cheese that’s sweet and nutty with large holes, similar to Swiss cheese.Cheese boards, sandwiches.

What Pairs Well With Mimolette?

What Pairs Well With Mimolette?

Food that goes well with Mimolette:

CategoryFood Items
BreadsCrusty Bread, Toast
FruitsGrapes, Apples
DishesNew Potatoes with Mimolette, Three Cheese Classic Mac
VegetablesRustic vegetables like roasted or grilled ones
CondimentsOil and Vinegar for dipping

Also read: 11 Best Crackers that Pair Well with Cheese

Beverage that goes well with Mimolette:

Red WinesBurgundy, Bordeaux, Merlot
White WinesChardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc
Sparkling WinesChampagne, Prosecco
BeerBelgian Ales, Craft Beers
SpiritsBrandy, Aged Rum
Non-AlcoholicApple Cider, Herbal Tea

Also read: Best Wine and Cheese Pairings: The Ultimate Guide

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