Timanoix: Walnut Liquor & Cheese Have a Baby
Some might write off a cheese that has been weaned on walnut liquor, fearing perhaps that the booze got to its head or affected its ability to know itself as a cheese first, and as a partner to alcohol second. With so many boozey cheeses out there exuding scents of cheap bars rather than buttery milk and balanced liqueurs, spirits, or wine, this is understandable. A cheese is easily influenced.
The high number of under-par cheeses being sold that have been doused in alcohol in their youth to hide inadequate flavor doesn't help the case for this style either. Dunking a low-quality cheese in two-buck Chuck will not make the wheel any better. It does, however, attract more fruit flies.
But when fresh, high-quality milk meets monk-made walnut liquor from Brittany, rest assured that your cheese is in good hands.
I had never seen Timanoix before I walked into the Pasta Shop one day looking for a photogenic cheese. My friend Stephanie over at Wasabimon offered to show me how camera terms like f-stop, aperture, applied to me, so I was looking for something pretty that I wouldn't have to kick off the cheese plate later. A wedge of Timanoix caught my eye.
With a rind the color of chestnut shells and a milky, buttery smooth interior, Timanoix makes one of the prettiest cheese slices you'll ever see. The rind is thin and firm and the inside is a silky, semi-firm paste with occasional holes, that melts beautifully in a grilled cheese sandwich.
The first taste of this sixty-day aged cheese reveals sweet walnuts and chocolate. Then, the sweetness fades and a rich, earthy character takes over. Last, you're left with a milky freshness on the tounge.
Trappist monks in southern Brittany make Timanoix by rubbing the pressed cow's milk cheese down with a walnut liquor also produced at Abbey Notre Dame de Timadeuc. Washing down cheeses is an ancient trappist practice. Monks started rubbing down the rinds in hopes of keeping the wheels from cracking. After they discovered it produced dynamic earthy flavors that could replace meat during their fasting periods, the practice caught on.
Gotta love those monks.
After the monks, but before the cheese gets to us, affineur Pascal Beillevaire ages the cheese in his cellar. This cheese has been blessed two-fold.
If you want to try this with wine, I'd suggest a Viognier or Chardonnay- something with a bit of nuttiness to match the cheese. As for beer- think trappist styles like Chimay.
What to you like to eat and drink with your trappist cheeses?