News Bulletin: We were in Europe in May (2008) when we received the crushing email from Murrays' Cheese in NYC. Because of a recent crackdown on the current importation laws, raw milk cheeses like Abbaye de Citeaux are no longer going to be imported to the US. The first blow to cheeselovers happened a few years ago when many soft cheeses were only allowed to be imported if they met the 60 day rule or were pasteurized and wonderful cheeses like Reblochon disappeared and others morphed into pasteurized versions.
But as of now, cheeses like Abbaye de Citeaux and Chabichou will no longer be allowed because the moisture content of the cheese is higher than the recommendation, that a cheese must contain no more than 67 percent water.
It's probably already too late (most of the big cheese retailers are out of stock- like Murray's in NYC) but we found a few wheels of Abbaye de Citeaux at the new Whole Foods in Napa, CA, so there is hope for a last taste in the US.
Abbaye de Citeaux is a washed rind raw cow’s milk cheese about 8” in diameter. It has the stinky cheese aroma but it’s much milder than it’s cousin Epoisses – closer in taste (and in appearance) to Reblochon. The cheese is made by the monks at the Abbaye of Saint Nicolas les Citeaux from the milk of their own herd of Montbellarde cows. It’s wrapped in a white and blue wrapper.
It’s been made at the Abbaye since the 1920s. The Abbaye de Citeaux we enjoyed came from Dean & DeLuca and was aged by the premier affineur Hervé Mons. It used to be available online at Murray’s Cheese Shop.
Tenerella literally means “tenderheart” and belongs to the family of cheeses called pasta filata - It refers to the curd development which creates stretchability when the cheese melts. An example of pasta filata are the strands in string cheese. Another name for Tenerella is Burrata.
This cheese however is far from stringy. The fresh mozzarella bag is filled with ricotta cheese and a dollop of cream. The sack is then "tied" at the top – which looks like a curlicue. It comes sealed in a plastic bag which is sealed in a tray with brine to keep it fresh.
The one we tried is La Perla de Messere from Il Forteto in Tuscany.
It tastes of fresh country milk and has an exquisite texture. Since it's airshipped to the US only 2-3 days after it’s made it has a short shelf-life. It’s best served in a way that it can be the star - with Heirloom tomatoes or part of an antipasto plate. We had it with pasta.
It is also available flavored with Truffles or Smoked Salmon.