Limburger

The cheese stands alone.

Limburger may be notorious for clearing a room, but don’t let it’s reputation deter you. In truth, it’s odor is on par with other pungent cheeses, like Taleggio or Epoisses, but of all the other odiferous cheeses, this cheese unduly gets the bad wrap.

Limburger is a surface-ripened semi-soft cow’s-milk cheese. During it’s maturation, the cheese is washed at regular intervals with Brevibacterium linens. In breaking down the milk proteins, B. linens produces sulfur compounds, which, unsurprisingly for those that have ever smelled sulfur, are responsible for the bad reputation. The process yields a peach-colored, edible, slightly sticky rind with a notably pungent scent. But take a bite and you may be surprised. The interior of the cheese is pale yellow, smooth and dense, growing softer as it ages. Despite it’s nose, the cheese actually has a rather mild, buttery taste with just a slight tang.

However, this dual personality can make Limburger as much of a challenge to pair as it is to convince guests to taste. The odor of the rind can overwhelm milder wine pairings, breads, and crackers. Rye crackers or breads, and even caraway seeds on their own, are a perfect match (I know, “Seeds and cheese?” you ask, but seriously, try dipping a slice and you will be pleasantly delighted.) As for beverages, a white Alsatian wine or similar can offer a welcome break from the aroma while complimenting the mild taste. Beer can also be a fantastic match, but go for something that has legs or Limburger will walk all over it (no light beers, please).