The best cheeses in North of France
Cheeses of North of France are strong and stinky ! 😉
Some of them are cooked and melted in dishes (especially Maroilles), but most of them are just eaten on a nice slice of bread.
Some people (including myself) eat cheese for breakfast, dipped in soup or coffee, a tradition inherited from the Belgians.
North of France has at least 35 cheeses, including:
The most famous cheese in north of France. Soft paste and washed rind, whose manufacturing technique is similar to those of Munster (Alsace). Maroilles is a cheese that has temper and a creamy paste “full of flavor”…
Maroilles is “AOC”, which is “an official French label identifying a product whose manufacturing steps (production and processing) are performed in the same geographical area and according to a recognized expertise”.
La boulette d’Avesnes (Avesnes pellet):
It is made of crumbled maroilles dough with tarragon and pepper. Sometimes, it can also be mixed with parsley and cloves. It is covered with paprika or annatto (a natural orange pigment from a south american shrub).
Its name comes from the town where this cheese was originally manufactured (Avesnes, close to Maroilles) and the shape of the cheese.
It is as “strong” as Maroilles.
(“Le dauphin” is made with the same cheese as the Boulette d’Avesnes but comes in the shape of a dolphin. The “boulette de Cambrai” is very close to the one from Avesnes, except it’s white, not orange).
Le Mont des Cats:
One of my favorite cheeses is made by Trappist monks at the abbey of the same name (near Godewaersvelde). It is an uncooked soft and fluffy pressed cheese.
It is not very strong, but it’s tasty.
It is made entirely by hand by monks of the monastery. For this, they collect raw milk from 25 farms around. The cheeses are placed in the cellars of the Abbey which are characterized by their moisture.
Le cœur d’Arras (Arras heart):
A cow milk cheese shaped as a heart, with an orange rind. It is the same family as Maroilles. As the name suggests, the Arras Heart is from the town of Arras in Pas-de-Calais, although it is currently manufactured in Avesnes (a hundred kilometers away).
This cheese gives off a powerful odor…
The taste of the Coeur d’Arras is close to that of his cousin, the Maroilles, but it’s sweeter.
Le Vieux-Lille (old Lille):
This soft cheese with a washed rind has a very characteristic smell and a very strong taste. It is also called “le puant de Lille”, which means “the stinky of Lille” ! Indeed, this close cousin of the Maroilles is characterized by an even more powerful smell.
This is initially a Maroilles soaked in brine for three months, which gives it a particularly salty flavor.
It was, according to tradition, the favorite cheese of coal miners.
La Mimolette vieille (old Mimolette):
The French mimolette appreciate long refinements, up to two years, and its paste becomes hard and brittle. The old Mimolette must have at least 12 months refining and “extra old” (my favorite) must be at least 18.
The cheese is brushed once a month to prevent excess erosion of the crust by the “mites” that provide its specific flavors to cheese.
The orange color of the paste is due to the addition of annatto in milk (it is rich in carotene).
Do not mingle French mimolette with Dutch Mimolette, which is covered with paraffin and is very “soft”.
La Tome de Cambrai:
This cheese was created in 1989 by a farmer, Miss Sauvage.
The Tome of Cambrai is a raw milk cheese, entirely manufactured in Madame Sauvage’s farm (near Cambrai).
It is matured in cellars and refined in beer. It is smooth and not too strong.
There is a cheese called “Bergues” (because it was originally manufactured in the city of Bergues, near Dunkirk) which is close to the Tome de Cambrai. It is a bit stronger… and smellier.
Have you ever tried one of this cheese ? What did you think about it ?
- Emily Tibbatts