Every day is cheese day at Gothamist HQ but starting today it’s also the Stinky Cheese Festival at the Tour de France restaurant group, whose many enterprises include upscale Nice Matin and casual bistro L'Express. The annual festival turns eight this week with special menus at each restaurant, plus lots of fragrant fromage. If you can’t smell it from across the room, it ain’t stinky enough.
We sat down with Executive Chef Andy D'Amico of Nice Matin to get a little insight into stinky cheese and how the restaurants will be celebrating them and cooking with them. D'Amico explained that the more moisture present in a cheese, the more bacteria and therefore the more stink. While some may be put-off by highly fragrant cheese, keep in mind that many of them are also capable of the deliciously creamy textures we all love—and while they may be pungent, their flavors are often more mild. When eating the cheeses by themselves, he advises giving them some time to warm up to room temperature and release all of their subtle characteristics.
Expect to see about five different types of cheese at each of the restaurants, which will be serving them on cheese plates, as well as incorporated into some of the dishes. At Nice Matin, they’re offering the King of Stinky Cheese, a.k.a. Époisses, a cheese from Bourgogne, France that’s aged just over a month. Then there’s Italian Taleggio, also aged just over a month until the sweet, grass notes shine through. Though still funky, it’s slightly less intense than its French cousin. There’s also the seawater-washed Ardrahan from Cork County, Ireland, with notes of “wet undergrowth"—a good thing!—and a beautifully intense scent.