Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cheese: Chimay

Chimay cheese is made by Trappist monks near Chimay, Belgium at the Abbey of Notre Dame. 
The Abbey was built in 1850 and a brewery and dairy were added in 1862 to help the monks generate funds. 
Many monasteries made and make cow's milk washed rind cheeses - I have previously looked at Port Salut, my favorite, and Abbaye Sainte Mere, with similar origins. Chimay is not exported to any great extent to the U.S., but is supposed to be one of the better monastery type washed rind cheeses.  One of the characteristics of this cheese is that it is washed with Chimay beer, another product of the monastery. 
This helps with formation of the rind and adds to the flavor of the cheese. As with other washed rind cheeses, it has a strong aroma and is semi-soft. 
The taste is complex. Initially it has a mild Gouda type taste, then it goes bitter, with sort of a sour background, and it leaves a strong long-lasting bitter after-taste. Like other washed rind cheeses, it is stronger tasting near the rind. I did not originally like the cheese, but it grew on me the more I tasted it. 
I don't drink beer, but it is supposed to go well with Chimay beer and also good on ham sandwiches. 

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