Firm and sticky texture, extremely
strong flavour and pungent aroma.
If you asked us which is the strongest
cheese in the shop, Vieux Lille would be a good contender for the super-heavyweight
crown. With a pungent odour and strong salty flavour, this cheese is certainly
not for the faint-hearted. The alternate names of 'Puant de Lille' and
'Puant Macéré' are a little more descriptive, the latter being literally
translated as 'stinking pickle'.
Vieux Lille is actually a type of Maroilles,
a very well known cheese with a history going back to the Middle Ages
when French cheese-making became the domain of the Monasteries. Maroilles
is washed with brine for three months to make Vieux Lille.
In the past, strong mature cheeses were
thought to be the domain of the poor and the workers, especially the northern
miners who enjoyed Vieux Lille while down the pit. This interestingly
contrasts with the Welsh miners, who preferred the fresher young cheeses
like Caerphilly to the traditional mature Cheddars. Nowadays in France
the stronger cheeses are more popular than ever, with local sayings such
as "The more it stinks the better it is".
Made in Flanders, our Vieux Lille comes
from unpasteurised cow's milk with a fat content of 45%. It is a square
block measuring 13cm by 13cm and 5-6cm high and weighing 800g. It is made
all year round. The brining process eliminates any rind, and the paste
has a moist surface which is slightly grey in colour. Although the cheese
holds together when cut, the consistency is best described as semi-soft.
This cheese is best enjoyed at the end
of a cheese board or on its own. The locals eat it with strong beer or