Gabietou: A Love it or Leave it Cheese
December 10, 2010
Gabietou generated a lot of passion at our table, but not all of it was positive. Gabietou is not for the wishy-washy: one either likes it or one does not. We are usually pretty forgiving about cheese, but Gabietou was divisive.
Gabietou comes from Pau in the Pyrenees region of France. It is a semi-soft cheese made with a blend of raw cow and sheep milks. The cheese is aged for 3-5 months, during which time the rind is washed with a water and salt brine. Gabietou has slightly different maturation processes, depending on its affineur (Gabietou may also carry the names of affineurs Herve Mons or Jean d’Alos).
Gabietou has a light orange-tan rind that is smooth and tacky. The rind has flecks of gray and white surface molds. The interior paste is pale yellow and populated with small flat holes. To the touch, the paste is smooth and springy.
Gabietou has an offensive odor that is detectable when it is held close to the nose. The rind’s perfume calls to mind cigar smoke, week-old socks and our dog’s breath after she has munched another animal’s feces. The paste smells like daises.
Gabietou has robust flavor that is balanced by an underlying sour fruitiness. Gabietou has smokey, sour and sweet peanut flavors. The sweet nutty flavor intensifies in the paste nearer the rind. After eating, a nutty sourness lingers on the tongue. Gabietou’s texture is rich and thick in the mouth.
Gabietou generated mixed reactions from our tasters. Those that liked the cheese were passionate about it and were laying claim to the remaining cheese. There was one equally passionate detractor who did not like Gabietou’s flavor or texture, comparing it to “tangified rubber” and likening its texture to plastic.
Passions aside, Gabietou would make a great cheese to share at a casual meal or picnic. It does not have the sure-to-please appeal of other cheeses, so use caution when introducing this cheese to a larger group. It is just as likely to create fans as it is to create detractors.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Gabietou at Cheese Plus (San Francisco); this cheese is also available at Cowgirl Creamery.