The theme of goats’ cheese continues. This is a slightly different one though. This is a Belgian goats’ milk cheese. I have to apologise to the Belgians because, and I don’t know why, I was almost surprised when I learned of this cheese. There’s no reason for this of course. They are sandwiched between the Dutch, the French and the Germans, all of whom can make good cheese, so why not Belgium?
Yes, I know Belgium also has a border with Luxembourg but I am, cruelly perhaps, suggesting that Luxembourg really couldn’t sandwich anyone.
So this cheese then. It’s a classic rind washed cheese, with a nice, hay coloured, quite dry and quite thick rind that shows no sign of cracking. The paste is semi firm and supple and is a beautiful ivory colour with some small eyes sparsely distributed throughout. And best of all, it’s an unpasteurised artisanal cheese.
Rind washed cheeses are bathed or washed liberally, often with brine but occasionally with brine with a fair content of beer, liquor or wine. Washing the rind helps to protect the paste since the rind doesn’t tend to crack and therefore the cheese matures within its own protective skin. These cheeses also tend to be saltier because of the brine and, best of all, they tend to be stinkier. Some washed rind cheeses often have quite sticky, orangey rinds because of the bacteria that favour such damp conditions. You might also find a slight crunch in the rinds from the salt crystals that form after the brining process. As mentioned elsewhere, you can eat the rind on these cheeses so give it a go. Don’t eat a piece of the rind on its own though. Make sure you try a bit of the cheese with the paste AND the rind. This will give you a much better idea of the true flavour of the cheese.
This isn’t a particularly stinky cheese though. It has a milky freshness to it that’s slightly acidic [without the goaty sharpness] and is buttery smooth with just a hint of graininess. The paste really coats your mouth and is quite dominating without being strong or overwhelming but you’d want to eat this later on from the cheeseboard as it will stop you from enjoying milder cheeses.
I guess, since it’s a Belgian cheese, you could try eating this with a good, dry, hoppy Belgian beer or even a granite dry white wine.