This beautiful wheel is Lille, from Vermont Farmstead, in South Woodstock, VT (full disclosure: I received this wheel as a sample from the cheese maker). Based on a Coulommiers, from the town of the same name in the Seine-et-Marne region; an “ancestor to Brie”, as the cheesemakers’ site describes it, it is thicker and sometimes fudgier than Brie but a very close relation otherwise. I’ve only had Coulommiers once that I can recall, in France, and it was a marvel — in that way that bloomy rinds in raw milk enlightened France can be — meaty, pungent and sumptuous and with a marvelous mushroomy essence. Lille is Vermont Farmstead’s tribute to that cheese (named perhaps after the French town of Lille?).
Vermont Farmstead’s version is made with pasteurized milk, and is milder than the cheese that inspired it, but is a wonderful cheese in its own right. With a thin and delicate rind, the paste is creamy and thick, lightly eyed, oozing at the creamline but firm and slightly chalky at the center. As it warms to room temperature (and make sure you do before eating it) it begins to sag and ooze, but without slipping the skin at all.
In flavor it is milky and bright, buttery, earthy and tangy, with nutty, lemon and musty mineral notes. A bite that is heavy in rind gives it a nice salty bite, while the interior on its own is delicate and flavorful.
So now the question is, what do I do with the rest of the wheel? Even I couldn’t consume it all on my own (indeed, I was pleasantly surprised to see an entire 3lb wheel when I opened the box, I had expected a wedge or mini-wheel!), but fortunately I have a BBQ coming up this Sunday, so I have a feeling it’s going to be coming with me as my contribution to the cheese platter.
Lille won a Gold Medal at the 2011 North American Jersey Awards. Vermont Farmstead has a video on the making of Lille, you can see it on YouTube or on their site.
Brie cheese. Get in me.