In my home laboratory, I am trying to make some washed rind cheese. It turns out that my first batch of Camembert was accidentally a smear-ripened cheese that I never washed—it had an odor that I wasn’t yet ready to appreciate, but one that I fully embrace now. When I make these cheeses, the process is the same as making Camembert or Brie—the only difference is the presence of B. linens, and a regular washing process in affinage. I have attempted a Taleggio, which I salt-brined in a local table wine from Galleano Winery (Mira Loma), and continue to wash with the same salty mixture. Because of the brine, the cheese paste is tighter and more dense than the usual non-pressed Camemberts and Bries. In another batch of Camembert, I am washing the rinds with salty wine every other day to inhibit white mold. To my nose, there is already a small amount of “stink,” but they are not yet where I’d like them to be. I mean, I don’t want to clear the room with them, but a few complaints from my family would be nice—a fine indication that they are ripe and ready to eat.
For completely scientific reasons, I decided to give the Stone restaurant one more chance to see if my newly acquired cheese knowledge would mesh with their “stinky” cheese platter. One of their cheeses, a semi-hard cheese called Schlebohorn from Holland definitely fit the bill. It has a very stinky, B. linens infected outer rind, leading to a very mild Swiss-cheese-like paste. The other cheeses—Shaft’s Bleu Vein, Delice de Bourgogne (a triple creme Brie), and Trivium (goat cheddar), though delicious and delightfully presented, didn’t exactly fit the bill for stinky. American tastes are still catching up with the rest of the world, but if the popularity of Belgian and sour beers at our Southern California breweries is any indication, I am confident that Americans are ready for a similar flavor revolution in artisan cheese.