Oh, i could sing it’s praises.
Yesterday, I went to a local specialty food vendor and was delighted to see some genuine Pouligny and Epoisses cheeses in the case. Both were fine specimens and a point (of age). Since Epoisses is supposed to be a fresh milk cheese (ie. made from non-pasteurized milk) that is consumed before the 60 day USDA/FDA regulatory aging period, it’s technically illegal for import to the U.S. (terrible, I know) and can be scarce.
Epoisses is one of only 35 cheeses that is protected as an “A.O.C.” cheese. A.O.C. stands for Appellation d’Origine Controlee – basically a strict regulatory standard that that French cheese manufacturers must meet in order for their cheese to be sold as “x.” Regulation include precise locations (type of grass lends particular terroire to the cheese), types of cows from which the milk is derived, size and shape of the cheese product, etc… (The Italians have a similar regulatory system most commonly referred to as “D.O.” or Denominazion Originale)
If aged correctly, the creamy interior of Epoisses “collapses” at room temperature, as mine did just a few moments ago (the temperature all cheeses should be eaten at – well, I suppose fondues and Welsh rarebits being exceptions). What may be a “stench” at first sniff turns into a rich barny aroma. The taste is salty and woodsy. You can almost imagine the good fromagers at Berthaut, (perhaps the largest makers of A.O.C. Epoisses) delivering these fine round babes from the hay cradles of the French compagne. Ahhh….
Complimenting, but surely not outdoing my Epoisses was a fine composed salad of mesculen, rocket, scallions, mushrooms (unfortunately buttons), grape tomatoes and a nice garlic vinaigrette. Oh, and crusty bread of course!