As our regular readers can attest, we eat, and therefore write about, a lot of bloomy-rind cheeses here at C+C. We can’t help it – Colleen and I gravitate toward these plush white pillows like a kid toward dirt. And in the course of consuming all these bloomies, I’ve developed my own classification system. Some cheeses, like Chaource or Kunik, give your tastebuds a bath of rich, warm, gooey goodness – like eating a stick of softened butter. Others, such as Moses Sleeper, offer the opposite sensation, cooling the palate like a glass of chilled milk. Lillé, a recent discovery from Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company, falls into the latter category.
Head cheesemaker Rick Wood crafts the large wheels of Lillé in the style of Coulommiers, a French soft-ripened that predates Brie. It’s a bit heartier and buffer than Brie, though – it’s what my mom would call “solid,” like she called me when I complained about the size of my muscles after seven years of figure skating. Vermont Farmstead sent me an entire wheel, and as I nibbled my way around its circumference, I got different flavors. My first tastes, when the wheel was quite young, were milky but lacking real depth. Later, as the Lillé aged, I became to experience the complexity I expected – a rush of lemon, the savoriness of toasted nuts and a whiff of grass. It’s amazing how something so white on the surface can contain such colors inside its dimpled rind.
With a dense, fudgy paste, Lillé can stand up to a thick berry jam or cocoa-fig spread for a very decadent snack, and toss a few chewy dried apricots or mango slices onto the platter, too. Bubbles, of course, are most appropriate, though a light white wine would be just as pleasing. And if you get an entire wheel, invite friends – you’ll need help polishing it off.
Lillé was sent compliments of Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company; all opinions are my own.