Saint Marcellin is a small (typcially 80g) soft cheese made from raw or thermised cow's milk in the Rhone-Alpes region of France (thermised milk is heated in a similar way to pasteurisation, but at a lower temperature of 63-65°C). The cheese is made using a lactic curd process and is allowed to drain gently in moulds without pressing. It contains around 23% fat which is approximately 50% fat in dry matter. It is often sold in small ceramic dishes, as it can become quite soft and runny as it matures.
|The example we purchased was made by French family owned cheese company Fromi.|
We purchased the cheese on the first weekend of March, and the shop assistant recommended we leave the cheese out on the kitchen bench for a few days to ripen it properly before we ate it. Through a combination of forgetfullness, experimentation and poking the cheese, we ended up leaving it in the dairy section of the fridge for a full month until early April before we got around to eating it. In fact we tackled this cheese a few days after the labelled best before date, which in my experience is usually when many cheeses are at their best anyway.
This cheese was packaged in a tiny wooden cup/box, which looks great compared to many of the cheese packages we see in New Zealand. There was a light, white geotrichum mould around the edges of the cheese. Although St Marcellin is not a washed rind cheese, there was a gentle aroma typical of washed rind cheeses, mixed with the sweetness of the geotrichum. When cut, the cheese had a smooth, unctuous centre with a thin tender rind that held cheese in shape. The flavour was sweet, milky, nutty, slightly sour and with a hint of animal notes - but nothing in excess - it was beautifully balanced.
We absolutely loved this cheese and devoured it pretty quickly. We had left the cheese out of the fridge for about 30 minutes, which was enough to soften it nicely but not so warm that it ran across the plate.
|Thought about putting it back in the fridge... but not for long. Also thought about eating this half in one mouthful. In the end we shared and savored it.|