Today is my washed rind cheese lucky number 13-Vieux Pane. If my high school French serves me correctly, that should mean Old Bread, yet another online source claims it means “old man’s beard,” in either case, I am mildly alarmed- yet intrigued!
Vieux Pane is a pasteurized cow cheese from Normandie, France. Coincidentally my far off ancestor, Yves Godu hailed from this area of France, so perhaps this cheese is in my blood.
Although physically attractive, this cheese really stinks, I haven’t even unwrapped it yet and the entire room has been enveloped in this toes in nose sort of aroma. I just let my mother smell it and she proclaimed, “it smells like sex,” although not in such a couth manner. The truth is, it does smell like sex, old man bearded sex. Now don’t you appreciate how willing I am to be your cheese guinea pig?
This washed rind cheese, like many others in this category, is pale creamy yellow with an orange-ish rind. It’s thinner than many of the other cheeses in dimension, and appears to be both moist and sticky. As I unwrap my piece the full odour assails my nostrils, it smells like diapers and filthy old vans full of kittens and playboys. There is a distinct uric acid hit, but also something a little darker. I’m scared.
Well, the bark is definitely worse than the bite. It’s not as sticky as I was hoping, and actually behaves like a proper little cheese once in the mouth, melting nicely on the palate with remarkably typical paste texture. You do taste that uric acid, but it doesn’t feel like it’s attacking you from inside, like Epoisses-the king of cheese. It’s well behaved, although mildly raunchy, and rather nice once you get past that smell. I don’t mind it, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. There’s a slightly bitter aftertaste I’m not crazy about. If you are going for stinky and shocking, there are better choices (Epoisses) if you are going for well behaved and yummy, also better choices (Chaumes, Fleur D’Aunis) all in the same family.
I give Vieux Pane 3 out of 5, which includes a bonus mark for smell, yet also detracts the same bonus mark for lack of follow through.