Day 55-Stinking Bishop

You didn’t actually think I would miss reviewing cheese today, just because it’s Christmas, did you?  Incidentally, Merry Christmas, and Happy Birthday Sophie-my daughter is 15 today.  Yes, poor planning, in terms of arrival, but a lovely child nonetheless. I’m in Powell River at my mom’s this morning, so I am crossing fingers that all technology will come together and that this post will work!

Today’s cheese is the only one in my larder whose name resembles anything to do with Christmas, so with tongue firmly in cheek, I present to you, Stinking Bishop.  Stinking Bishop is a pasteurized washed rind cow cheese from England.  It’s made only by the Martell family at their farm-Laurel farm, and is made only from the milk of their Gloucester cows- a rare breed of cattle that this family basically brought back from the verge of extinction, specifically to make this cheese.  In fact, the making of Stinking Bishop was initially a publicity ploy for Gloucester cattle, and wasn’t really about the cheese itself.

Stinking Bishop is a smelly little celebrity.  The 2005 Oscar-winning “Curse of the Were-Rabbit-Wallace and Gromit” -an animated film-used this cheese as a sort of smelling salt at the end to revive one of the characters back from death.  Apparently, the demand for Stinking Bishop went up by 500% after this film was released, which just goes to show that people are weird.  Stinking Bishop was also reviewed on “Bizarre Foods” a show in which the host travels the world sampling nasties and proclaiming them, “delicious!”  Really, this little cheese made it onto Bizarre Foods?  Must have been a slow week.

Stinking Bishop is said to resemble a munster cheese, and has also been compared to Epoisses, the king of Cheese, thus I’m pretty excited to taste it-loving my experiences with both of these deliciously nasty little numbers.   Although it’s only been around since the 1970’s, a cheese very much like it was  traditionally made by Cistercian monks in the area.  This raunchy little cheese actually does stink-how refreshing that it embraces its odour! The smell comes from the washing of the rind in “Perry” an alcoholic beverage made from the local Stinking Bishop Pear.  The little Perry cheese bath happens about once every 4 weeks during the affinage before salt is applied to the rind at the finish.

Alas, much to my chagrin, there was no actual Bishop that stank and ate cheese.  The pear and the cheese are actually named after a Mr. Bishop, who originally bred the pears for the Perry beverage, but had a notoriously stinking temperament.  He legendarily shot his kettle for not heating his water for tea fast enough.  No actual Bishops were involved.  Sigh.

My little wedge of Stinking Bishop sits here minding its own business on my desk.  The rind is orange, and the interior paste is quite creamy colored, with a speckle of holes (eyes.)  It’s a soft looking cheese, but it’s not oozing or falling apart.  It really does reek, it’s that full teenage-goat-boy-sock-underwear-barn thing, although–in a sort of wholesome way.  It doesn’t smell sinister or medicinal, it’s owning its stench. It beseeches me to sample it.

Here goes…

Umm, yuck.  That’s a shocker.  First, you know how they say that stinky cheese doesn’t taste as bad as it smells-in this case, that is patently incorrect.  In fact, Stinking Bishop tastes worse than it smells. Far worse. The taste is just acrid and spoiled, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.  I say this as a person who enjoys  raunch, and a good hit of ammonia in my cheese, but this one is either rotten, or it’s supposed to be this way.  Either way, I’m not eating anymore-and that’s a first.  The texture was also off putting-strangely foamy and squelchy for a washed rind cheese.  It also has a strange taste of apsaragus, like the cows broke into a patch and were then milked. Heinous! Man, this is a nasty cheese, I can’t imagine a world in which someone would actually enjoy eating it. OK, I get it, this is a “Bizarre Food,” because anyone eating it for pleasure is patently bizarre.

Well here it is, day 55 and my first cheese I seriously dislike and would never, ever, ever eat again.  Never. Well, maybe if I needed to revive someone from the dead.  Suddenly, that’s all sort of making sense.

Merry Christmas from “My Blog of Cheese!”

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