Cheese masterclass with: Romain Olivier

A cheese masterclass with one of northern France’s most celebrated cheesemakers in one of Lille’s best addresses? Sign me up!

The announcement of a marché des producteurs – a farmers’ market, I guess we’d call it in English – at the Clarance Hôtel in Lille caught my eye. This was a first for the hotel, the blurb said.

There would be honey producers, beer makers, cured meat sellers, bio vegetable growers…

We felt it our duty to come and support it. After all, the Clarance was one of the places that made us fall in love with Lille in the first place.

We stayed here for a long weekend about four years ago. After a sumptuous lunch, I remembering us talking on the Eurostar back to the UK how much we had liked the city and could imagine living here.

Fast-forward 18 months and nous voici.

Graham at Clarance Hotel, Lille

One of the other things we like about Lille is its plethora of cheese shops. The most famous of them all is the Fromagerie Philippe Olivier.

Its owner is 35-year-old Romain Olivier, the fourth generation of the Olivier family. He gave the masterclass at the Clarance – all about a local speciality, Mimolette.

Known also as the boule de Lille, this cheese as developed in the 1600s when France was at war with the Netherlands. Importing Dutch cheeses was outlawed and northern French dairy farmers were encouraged to come up with a pressed cheese to replace popular cheeses such as Edam.

The result was Mimolette.

Borrowing from its Dutch inspiration, Mimolette used the same Mexican annatto seed to achieve its orange colour. (Spain controlled the Netherlands at the time, remember.)

“Mimolette isn’t well known outside northern France. Perhaps it’s one for us to consider when we open our cheese-and-wine bar in Dordogne”

We tried three types, each of different maturity: two months, four months and 24 months.

The first was firm but supple and lightly oily, and the second a little firmer and piquant. The third really hit the spot for us – stronger, nuttier and crumbly.

The rind is marked, thanks to a harmless mite which burrows into the croûte.

Surprisingly, Mimolette isn’t very well known outside the north of France. Perhaps it’s one for us to consider when we open our cheese-and-wine bar in Dordogne next year…

A taste of the north in the south. Why not?

This entry was published on Sat, 15 Jun 2019 at 09:27. It’s filed under Food and wine and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

6 thoughts on “Cheese masterclass with: Romain Olivier

  1. Mimolette is a “go to” cheese when I’m in France, and I always bring some back for my neighbour who grabs it gleefully – she was introduced to it by Dutch friends, then passed on the intro to us. When she minds the house for us & we’re in France, we bring he wine and cheese – so Mimolette could go down very well on your new venture.

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  2. Mimolette is well known in the Dordogne and on the Côte d’Azur. You find it everywhere.
    I just had a brebis sanglé at lunch today. That was a new one for me. Delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

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