Mimolette Cheese

Hello, my name is Diana, and I am obsessed with cheese.  I’ve stood for a full 30 minutes in front of a cheese case, not speaking or touching anything, simply staring at the abundance and variety of amazing cheeses.  I’ve taken a plate full of cheese samples to a corner all by myself so I can savor the nuances of each bite completely without distraction.  My current favorite is a lovely orange cheese called Mimolette, which I got hooked on when my friends Todd and Diane brought it on our trip to Mexico.  But I have to tell you, Mimolette has a dirty little secret.

Do you see those little holes near the rind of the cheese?  They’re not air bubbles, they didn’t somehow happen while the wedge of cheese was being cut.  No, nothing that simple or palatable.  They were made by mites, yes that’s right, I’m talking about little creatures, burrowing in the cheese.  If you want to see a picture of cheese mites, well beware!  But the good news is that they’re gone by the time you eat the cheese!

According to several cheese experts I spoke with, the mites are introduced to add flavor to the cheese (which gets its beautiful orange hue from a natural dye called annatto).  Basically, as they burrow through the cheese and devour the rind, they promote air flow and flavor development as the cheese ages.  The mites are gone before the cheese is sold, and you don’t really eat the cheese rind anyway because it’s rock hard!

Mimolette typically has three stages, demi-vielle which is “half old” or around six months of aging, vielle which is “old” and about a year aged, and tres-vielle or “very old” at 18 months.  At two years it gets thrown away.  Sad!  As the cheese ages, its flavor profile changes dramatically.  At the demi vielle stage it’s VERY hard (hurt my teeth!) and has an oily quality to it.

The mimolette vielle starts out mild but has a complex after taste.  I had Eric try some right before we went on a walk.  He said,”It’s good, tastes like a mild cheddar or something.  Nothing special.”  Then 3 minutes away from the house he said “Wow!  That cheese has a great aftertaste!”  It has a nutty quality  to it, and sometimes hints of fruit or caramel as well.  I like to gnaw on the inside of the rind where the flavor is the strongest!  I haven’t tried the tres-vielle but hear that it has a much stronger nuttiness.

It would be expensive to buy a whole pound (don’t think I haven’t considered it!), but my wedge was under $5.  One of our favorite ways to eat is high quality ingredients used simply.  A wedge of cheese, a loaf of crusty bread with oil and vinegar for dipping, some grapes and apples and we’re good to go!  I highly recommend this for a cheese platter to start a party.  You could grab some brie, and maybe a blue cheese, a couple of baguettes thinly sliced, and some olives to have a starter course for 10 that’s only about $2 a person.

Plus it’s a great way to weed out the timid eaters (and have more for yourself!).  Just wait until everyone’s tried the cheese, tell them about the mites, and see how many people avoid it after that.  Quite a conversation starter!  My plan for my next wedge of Mimolette is to make macaroni and cheese, if I can keep from eating it first :)


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17 Responses to “Mimolette Cheese”

  1. Fran
    March 1, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    I liked this cheese when we had it that night at dinner in Mexico as well. I totally forgot about the cheese eating mite process — guess I put it out of my head. I didn’t remember the name of the cheese, but now that you’ve reminded me I’m going to have to make note of it and see if I can find it locally.

    I’m curious to see how it melts for you when you use it in mac n’ cheese.

  2. Anne
    March 1, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    Man oh man, I wish I could zap some of that cheese into my house right now. Thank you for telling me about it!!! Bring on the mites (or mite holes)!

  3. Joie de vivre
    March 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    Diana,
    There is a new cheese monger in town. I totally know how you feel. I go in and stare wide eyed practically pressing my nose against the glass case. “May I help you?” they ask. “In a little while, I’m just enjoying looking at them all right now.” Hee hee! :)

  4. Abigail (aka Mamatouille)
    March 1, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    I’m enjoying our stay in Wisconsin right now for that very reason–I’m a cheese nut! And you can’t keep me away from my in-laws’ fridge when we visit them in the UK–British cheese is to gnaw for!

  5. No Onion Please
    March 2, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    I’m a cheese lover too. It was really interesting to read that mites are used for flavoring the cheese! Thank you for this post :)

  6. Jennifer
    March 2, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    How funny! I just did a wine and cheese tasting in Temecula, CA and this was one of my favorites… according to our host it used to be used as a cannonball when they ran out of real ones, because it was so cheap to produce! She brought out the whole wheel for us to feel and it’s hardcore!

  7. Laurel
    March 2, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    Oh my goodness, I cannot express my love for mimolette. I first discovered it two years ago when I was taste testing cheeses at Whole Foods and immediately fell in love. Definately my favorite kind of cheese

  8. Tupper Cooks
    March 2, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    I’m a hybrid cheesehead/breadhead too. I could live on the stuff.
    This cheese looks really good (like I’m drooling on the keyboard). I’d never heard of the mites before-kinda cool I think. Thanks for the share!

  9. Monika
    March 2, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    I’ve been in love with Mimolette for many years now but I didn’t know about the mites…. they have quite exquisite taste ;-)

  10. arugulove
    March 2, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    This is one of my favorite cheeses. I adore it.

  11. Kavey
    March 3, 2010 at 2:27 am #

    Lovely write up on Mimolette. I followed your link from TasteSpotting!

  12. Tokyo Terrace
    March 3, 2010 at 4:53 am #

    I too am a cheese lover! This was a really interesting post. I’ve never heard of cheese mites, but I guess if they make tastier cheese I’m all for them being around (just not when I take a bite…)

  13. Joanne Choi
    March 3, 2010 at 8:43 am #

    I tasted this cheese at a cheese shop while in Napa. I LOVED IT…but I was not informed of the mites! I know I wasn’t given the “mite-y” end…but wow…they eat better than I.

  14. Chef Hollywog
    March 4, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    I just tried this cheese at Whole Foods last weekend and loved it. It’s like a ‘funky cheddar’ with lots of grassy goodness. The cheesemonger at the store also told me that this was Napoleon’s FAVORITE cheese. How un-French of him! A British-style cheese with no oozy center and no permeating aromas to speak of? Zut alors!

  15. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction
    March 5, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    Looks like a wonderful cheese! I, too, have been known to spend entirely too long simply taking in the variety and options at the cheese counter. I have that same problem with the produce at the farmer’s market, too.

  16. SundancerSEM
    June 6, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    Oh man we have this cheese for fairly cheap at work and I LOVE it. I’m glad I didn’t know about the mites before I ate it though, or I might not have been brave enough to try!

  17. Lynne Faubert
    October 2, 2010 at 11:20 am #

    I know this post is oldish, but I just discovered it and lol, we didn’t know about the mites. We have been eating the cheese, so now hubby is holding his head in total horror, muttering about foodies who will eat anything and fool their families into it. By the way, did you know about Italian maggot cheese? Now that’s cheese hardcore: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ_-JzM-YQg

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