Le Mamirolle is one of Canada's many immigrants. Its reputation originates as an Old World cheese, originally created in 1935 at the École Nationale d'industrie laitière (the French national dairy school) in Mamirolle, France. It set its roots in Canada when it was adopted in 1996 by the Dubois family, who own Éco-Délices in Plessisville, Que.
Since 1989, Éco-Délices had been producing yogurt and the family was looking to diversify. They applied to the E.N.I.L to obtain an exclusive Canadian licence allowing them to replicate Mamirolle and use its name. With the help of a consultant that had worked at E.N.I.L., the cheesemakers at Éco-Délices successfully mastered the Mamirolle process.
Like the French version, the Canadian Mamirolle has a square body and is made in loaf shaped moulds. Its moist exterior has a characteristic bright orange colour. A wedge of fiery-skinned Mamirolle looks great on a cheese board, but you might smell it before you see it. The rind welcomes you enthusiastically with a strong, earthy pungency. The paste has a milder, fresher flavour, its texture rich and supple. Sweet, salty, full flavours fill the mouth and the finish is rich and slightly buttery.
Le Mamirolle's hometown is in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. Its landscape is comprised of mountain regions with high plateaus and many valleys. The cattle from this region are known for their high quality milk, 80 per cent of which is made into cheese. To maintain this same milk quality Éco-Délices hand picks all their milk suppliers. The cheese factory is situated on the ancestral land of the Dubois family in the Appalaches area of Quebec. Today this small artisanal dairy processes 16,000 litres of milk a week to make four cheeses.
Le Mamirolle is a semi-firm, unpressed cheese that when unmoulded is placed in a brine solution before being cut and put on pine planks in a ripening room. It is washed each day (for 10 days) in an orange bath (whose recipe is a well-kept secret). From the ripening room, the cheese is transferred into a drying room where it's turned every day for 10-15 days until it achieves the right moisture content. Finally Le Mamirolle is wrapped by hand in a special, microporous paper that preserves the quality of the cheese.
The original Mamirolle is still made in France though its shape is a bit narrower, thicker and the cheese is drier with a darker red rind.
The question remaining to be answered about this transplanted European native is, when you order it at the cheese monger do you use a French or a Québécois accent?
Sue Riedl studied at the Cordon Bleu in London.
On the block
Cheese Le Mamirolle
Origin Plessisville, Que.
Cheese maker Simon Hamel
Milk Pasteurized cow
Type semi-firm, washed rind, unpressed, uncooked
Shape 200g, 400g, 2kg loaves
Distributors Choix des Artisans, Fromagerie Atwater, Provincial Fine Foods
London, Ont.: Smith Cheese
Guelph, Ont.: Chartelli's
Toronto: Pusateri's, Whole Foods Market, Scheffler's Deli, Jamie Kennedy's Gilead Café
Ottawa: The House of Cheese in Byward Market
Saskatoon: Souleio Foods
Calgary: Blush Lane
Vancouver: Cheese Man, Les Amis du Fromage
Victoria: Ottavio's, Charelli's
Montreal: La Fromagerie du Marché Atwater, La Boulangerie de Froment et de Sève