couloummiers cheese

When I came back from Australia, something in my refrigerator stunk to high heaven. I was pretty sure I had done a good job before I left, making sure all bits and pieces of anything that could spoil in the frigo were tossed. Since my head was in another hemisphere, I just chalked it up to my fridge not being opened in a while. But a friend had stayed in my apartment while I was gone, and I remembered something in one of the e-mails about leaving “un peu de fromage” for me, to enjoy upon my return. So I did a little more investigating and found that indeed, wrapped in crinkly waxed paper and a loose covering of foil was a hulking round of Coulommiers.


Coulommiers cheese isn’t that widely known outside of France. It’s made in the Brie region, in pretty much the same fashion as Brie de Meaux, but it’s a lot heftier in depth and like its less-lofty cousin, a wedge of the stuff will go from solid to a gloppy, near-liquid (and utterly delectable) mess before you know it, if left at room temperature. There’s raw milk and pasteurized versions and I don’t care what anyone tells me; there’s a big difference between the two in terms of taste. Never buy the supermarket versions, which only encourages them.

couloummiers ripe couloummiers

The slightly pungent flavor in enveloped by silky dairy overtones, as if the cows were fed only heavy cream during their blissful lives. And when it’s ripe and ready, the over-the-top creaminess will have you racing to the nearest boulangerie for a fresh baguette to smear it on. Which I know, from experience.

The same friend who stayed chez moi also was kind enough to leave me a triple-whammy of three bottles of great rosé, a fitting gift since we’ve shared many bottles together in the past. Needless to say, next time I go away, I’m not searching very far for someone else to stay in my apartment. In fact, I may find myself taking a few more trips in the future, just to see what turns up in my absence.

Related Posts

Comté Cheese Making and Ripening

Brie de Meaux

Coulommiers (Wikipedia)

Bleu de Gex

I Heart Neufchâtel

Warm Baked Goat Cheese

Bleu de Termignon

Gougères (French Cheeses Puffs)

Saint Marcellin

Antiquing Outside of Paris

Goat Cheese Soufflé

Why You Should Drink White Wine with Cheese

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  • Izzy
    October 16, 2011 2:57pm

    Sounds absolutely delicious!

  • October 16, 2011 3:09pm

    Cheese. One of the reasons why we look forward to spending the winter in France.
    Raw Milk anything beats pasteurized products. Cheese, butter…

  • October 16, 2011 3:39pm

    I’m writing this from Boston, where, last night we attended our friends’ annual beer and cheese-paring party. I would gladly trade all the cheeses I had last night for even just a quick finger lick off the knife of that soft, unpasteurized, stinky cheese pictured there. Oh silly America and its fear of bacteria.

  • Eileen
    October 16, 2011 4:07pm

    Re your Ikea tweet…wait until you come back to NYC with Romain and take the water taxi from Pier 11 to the Ikea in Redhook. Also, you can visit your friends at Baked and then take the same water taxi back into the city (free on weekends). And yes that cheese does look inviting.

  • October 16, 2011 4:10pm

    Recently I’ve started seeing an influx of articles discussing pasteurised and raw milk. Perhaps we will start to see a comeback by raw milk and its products. About time.

  • October 16, 2011 4:15pm

    Wow, that looks amazing! I love coulommiers, one of my favourites, especially at that melty phase….
    Can I have your friends name? Maybe he/she would like to come stay at our place sometime!

    • October 16, 2011 4:21pm
      David Lebovitz

      Sorry, I’m keeping her for myself!

  • October 16, 2011 4:41pm

    HHahaha cheeky comment (above). That’s why I like you.

  • October 16, 2011 5:05pm

    Oh.My.Deliciousness, I was watching CBS Sunday Morning (just about the best hour of my week) and now I am headed right out to Buford Farmers Market (You were just there) to try to find this stinky, gooey perfection. Wish me luck!

  • October 16, 2011 5:13pm

    Coulommiers is available in Canada, who would like an immigration application?

  • October 16, 2011 5:13pm

    That looks simply divine…I pine for smelly, runny cheese…a rare thing in Maine BUT some of the local producers are now making things like CAMDENbert which leans towards the runny and smelly if you wait long enough.
    Lucky you!!

  • October 16, 2011 5:16pm

    Oh god this sounds so great.

    October 16, 2011 5:16pm

    OK, David, any idea which cheese shop in Paris this came from? Must go find it! It’s oozy-gooey, goodness! We visited Coulommiers this past year in search of cheese that looked as divine as your photos but were disappointed at the lack of cheese shops IN the town itself. There was really only one. Maybe it’s one of those phenomenons that sometimes it is better to get the cheese outside of the region to appreciate it more.

  • October 16, 2011 5:29pm

    That looks amazing. I’ve worked in the cheese world for 6 years, but am back in school full time and only get to be around it about once every two weeks (probably better for my health anyway) but this makes me want to go right now to buy cheese. Right after I told my husband that “I’m going to eat healthy today.”

  • October 16, 2011 5:29pm

    Stay on good graces with that friend–she is the ultimate apartment-sitter.

  • October 16, 2011 5:35pm
    David Lebovitz

    Lynanne: I don’t know, but perhaps she will pop in here and let you know. (Update: She did…check further down the comments.) Yes, it’s interesting about that region that there aren’t a lot of cheese shops. I think it’s because many of the towns around the Brie region have become industrialized and are more about shopping centers than places to buy regional products. But in the town on Coulommiers, there is an outdoor market with a lot of Brie cheeses available and there is a good cheese shop in the center square which is open daily.

    When I was in the Jura, where Comté is produced, there were lots of cheese shops selling the various cheese made in the region. Perhaps the people in Brie don’t eat all that much of their own cheese? Well, more for us…

    Liz: Well, I’d argue that cheese is healthy. True, it has a pretty high degree of fat, but this one is a natural product with no preservatives or long list of weird chemicals in it. I eat a little cheese every day, but I must admit, it’s hard to keep to the “little” part!

  • October 16, 2011 5:37pm

    Mmmm, I’m going to have to seek this one out! I’m a huge fan of soft, stinky cheeses.

  • October 16, 2011 5:45pm

    There’s nothing like a little stinky cheese to welcome you home. Yum.

  • October 16, 2011 6:17pm

    This is, bar none, my dad’s favourite cheese, and he refuses to eat it unless he is in Paris. (He lives in New York.) It may, seriously, be the stinkiest cheese I have ever whiffed. It certainly gives Muenster a run for its money. When we were there recently we forgot about the intense stinkiness and for a couple of days we actually thought there was a sewage problem in our flat. I sh*t you not. (Pun intended.) Perhaps one day you can do a post about what makes some cheeses super stinky? (I know about washed rind cheeses, but coulommiers gloriously and assertively transcends any epoisses or st nectaire on the stinky scale.

  • October 16, 2011 7:42pm

    What great friends you have. I can’t think of anything nicer than finding a wedge of cheese that ripe and oozing in my fridge. Unpasteurised is best – totally agree.

  • October 16, 2011 8:05pm

    Oh, dear, what’s the matter with me? I’m not a fan of stinky cheeses at all, at all.
    And I don’t understand people who are drawn to them. I tasted durian once, proving to myself that something doesn’t necessarily taste better than it smells.

    I do look forward to each of your blog entries, even when I occasionally read every word with a funny look on my face. Keep up the good work!

  • October 16, 2011 8:06pm

    Oh my god, yummy! Sweet drools from Helsinki!

  • October 16, 2011 8:33pm

    The Coulommiers cheese went to David mostly as a treat but also because I thought Easyjet would charge me extra for carrying on something so smelly!

    It came from La Fromagerie de la Brie in St Simeon, not far from Coulommiers.
    They have a shop open Friday 1.30pm to 6pm and Saturday morning 9 – 12.

    True there are not many cheese shops in the Brie – you have to be at the markets or go to the factory. This cheese is sold at Coulommiers market Wed and Sunday.

    I’m told it’s available at Waitrose in UK but haven’t checked it out – yet.

  • Katie
    October 16, 2011 8:41pm

    so … Tricia, have you been to Dublin ?? (David, love your post !)

  • October 16, 2011 8:43pm

    Why did you take such fabulous pictures of the cheese? I nearly licked my screen to try and get a taste. =(

  • StayingPositive
    October 16, 2011 8:54pm

    OK…now that looks amazing! Another one to add to our Sunday Feast cheese board. Off to the market tomorrow!

  • October 16, 2011 9:06pm

    OOOH my goodness. This post is having me wishing I were back in Paris eating breakfast with my grandma. We always had a baguette and camembert. Coulommiers would be great to try next, although i’m pretty sure it’d be hard to find in my little SoCal suburb. :(

    October 16, 2011 11:00pm

    Thanks David, and thanks Tricia for the info about the specifics about this specific Coulommiers cheese! I guess when we visited it wasn’t a market day – too bad for us! I live in the UK now so will see what I find at Waitrose…or just come back for another visit to Coulommiers.

  • October 16, 2011 11:47pm

    Oh my goodness, I LOVE it when you post about cheese! I’m going to be dreaming about this all day.

  • October 17, 2011 8:11am

    I can smell it all the way down here in Provence! Looks special indeed, may have to see if the very grumpy cheese shop owner in St Remy has some for sale……(why does she hate foreigners so much when its them that pay her rent?)

  • Stephanie
    October 17, 2011 10:35am

    Shop owners dislike foreigners who believe that spending money in her establishment makes them exempt from having manners. She wants them to politely say hello upon entering, wait patiently if there are other customers, make polite conversation (this is not required but appreciated) and say goodbye when leaving. The majority of foreigners treat French shopkeepers like servants and this must be very tiring for them.

  • Mariana
    October 17, 2011 11:12am

    I recently found your blog and I must tell you that now I am a regular follower, always waiting for your next post.

    Just read your book, The Sweet Life in Paris and is it very good, it’s nice how good you are with words.

    And yes, that cheese seems absolutely amazing, no doubt. Nice to have such “good” friends…

  • October 17, 2011 3:37pm

    Well, David, a little drop into your site here never disappoints! Wow, the description of that cheese looks/sounds amazing. I was in Paris last November and visiting your site now and then reminds me of how much I loved it and want to return. Thank you!

  • October 17, 2011 5:53pm

    I love Coulommier and always make sure to buy some from a small local producer whan we stay nearby.

  • October 17, 2011 6:25pm

    I’m now craving coulommiers. I believe a road trip from Paris is in order.

  • nari
    October 17, 2011 7:14pm

    You are making me hungry for cheese at 10 AM!!!!

  • October 17, 2011 9:03pm

    Welcome home. Hope you aren’t too jet-lagged. I’m not a huge fan of stinky cheeses, but my 9-year-old grandson is. I’ll have to find some Coulommier for him to try. Of course, I’ll have to try it, too.

  • October 17, 2011 9:23pm

    Incredible! I’m not sure I’ve ever had coulommier. Look at it turning to liquid before our very eyes! Probably pretty damn good with that rose too.

  • kathy
    October 17, 2011 10:59pm

    I am a little late on the uptake, but, I have been out of town. Now trying to catch up and just read your blog about Quay Restaurant. I want that smoked eggplant puree’ recipe!!! No one else said anything about it. Sounds fabulous and it is always great to find new ways to work with eggplant. Please, please… Even a guess if you don’t have the exact info.

  • October 17, 2011 11:18pm

    My husband brought it home one day and I could not figure out where that smell was coming from inside the refrigerator. . Finally figured it out but I could not get past the smell. It really tastes good??

  • October 17, 2011 11:40pm

    Geez, the only thing that was left in my fridge after the last (American) visitors was a bottle of pre-made salad dressing. This just cannot be. From now on, I’m leaving a recipe tacked to the fridge for a real vinaigrette. I mean…bottled dressing in France? That’s just sacrilege!

  • October 18, 2011 1:26am

    I’ve never had the pleasure of trying coulommiers, but it sounds like roblochon (from the Haute-Savoie), also an extremely pungent cheese. So smelly that one morning – many years ago – we placed a round under the bed of my mother and her traveling companion – just to see what would happen. When they retired to their room for an afternoon nap, we settled in on the patio overlooking the Swiss Alps and waited…Directly above us, the window to their room was suddenly flung open: “OMG what is that smell? What has died in our room? They must have put manure in the flower box on the window sill…” Everyone on the patio, now in on the joke, was laughing so hard they probably heard us in Grindelwald. Unfortunately, the joke was on us, as we were forced to switch rooms and sleep with the lingering odeur.

  • Rosa
    October 18, 2011 3:36am

    Unrelated to the cheese–I know you’ve written/said more than once that nobody bakes a birthday cake to eat by themselves. Baking and eating even the best birthday cake by yourself just isn’t the same. This is the first birthday where I’ve had some truly special people to share my birthday cake with, and I must say it made it so much better!

  • October 18, 2011 6:43am

    That is one lovely hunk of cheese. What a nice way to come home! Good thing you live in France ;-)

  • October 18, 2011 3:32pm

    I adore brie de meaux and, based on these photos, I think I’m going to love coulommiers. Yum.

  • Lucy
    October 18, 2011 3:59pm

    I love coulommiers!! Mons stock it in london, slight cabbagey flavour, delicious!

  • cataliya
    October 24, 2011 5:33am

    I’ve tried Coulommiers when I was in France. I got mine from one of the large supermarket/stores (not Monoprix). I just wanted to try something different. The usual one I buy is Brie. I hope you are right about the differences in tastes because the Coulommiers I bought was super pungent. I tried one little piece and was not able to go any further.

  • October 25, 2011 6:54am

    I need friends like this!!!!

  • October 26, 2011 6:03am

    Missing Coulommiers so much that I would even go for the Monoprix version right now….

  • October 31, 2011 5:51pm

    Soft, stinky cheese. It doesn’t get any better than that! How I miss the cheese of France…

  • November 5, 2011 7:05pm

    Coulommiers is my best cheese discovery since moving to Paris. I’d never seen it outside France. Love it even more than Brie.