Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cheese: Abbaye Sainte Mere

Abbaye Sainte Mere, also known as Saint Paulin, is a Trappist, or monastery, washed-rind cheese made of raw cow milk and aged for 60 days. This is the traditional label
but I got mine through Trader Joe's.
The Zabar's website describes it as "sweet, vegetal, zingy, pungent, and aromatic" and "made by the Sisters of the Abbaye de Belval." 
The Trappist Abbey of Our Lady Belval, located just outside Saint-Pol-sur-Temoise, is a Benedictine Abbey, which since 1893, has collected milk from nearby farms and made their own cheese to provide an income so they can live independently. It is marketed by the Isigny Sainte-Mere Cooperative, which is a merger of the Isigny-sur-Mer and Sainte-Mere-Eglise cooperatives in Lower Normandy, France, a region familiar to us because of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy. 
I found it to be a little smelly, but not bad (I found one reviewer who was so put off by the smell that he wouldn't eat it). I was surprised, when I tasted it, how strong it was, as I was expecting it to be very bland. 
The taste near the rind is the strongest and it is complex: 
it is not sharp, or dull, but has kind of a roundness, with softness, that then fades leaving an after-taste that puckers or numbs the tongue just a little bit. In a plate full of different cheeses it is not one that would get a lot of my attention, but it was not bad. It is distinctive, and for that reason, is worth trying. 


  1. Trader Joe's doesn't stock it anymore! Where can I find it in Washington State or elsewhere?

  2. Trader Joe's rotates cheeses and it may come back again. You should also be able to order it on-line from any number of cheese sellers.