Friday, March 23, 2007
Soumaintrain Berthault: Gives Vacherin a Run For MUCH Less Money
As I have noted before, I really like Vacherin. Although I prefer the raw milk version, the pasteurized Vacherin is not bad and is available in the States. However, it is quite expensive. So when I saw a similar looking piece of cheese, Soumaintrain Berthault, at Zabar's for about $11 for a 6" wheel I couldn't resist. Although I am the type to do research on cheese, the reality is that I bought the cheese because it looked like the Vacherin, and cost 1/3 as much. My reasoning was, if worst came to worst, it would look pretty at dessert.
The cheese is a washed rind cheese. It has a sticky brown rind, and a whitish, soft inside. Our cheese was quite ripe and we used a spoon to serve it. It definitely has an odor, but not as overpowering as other strong cheeses we have eaten.
So I was pleasantly surprised when the entire wheel disappeared. For good reason. The cheese was great. Ripe and soft, we scooped it out with a spoon and ladled it on bread and crackers. The taste is similar to a Vacherin. The best overall description is an article from 2005 by Janet Fletcher. She describes the cheese as having a fifth flavor (savory) or what the Japanese call umami. I'll just call it good, and a great value.
Fletcher also notes that there is no apellation control for Soumaintrain cheese, so she (and I) strongly recommends buying the Berthault brand of Soumaintrain.