Stinky Cheeses: How Brave Are You?

My sweets, a couple weeks ago, we figured out how to make the perfect cheese plate. But what about really those change-your-life strong cheeses? Well, Murray’s Cheese helped us put together a cheese plate for brave souls that will blow your mind (and stink up your living room). The only question is: Can you handle it? :)

Murray’s head cheesemonger Sydney Willcox showed us how to create a truly adventurous cheese plate, and the wonderful Jamie Beck took photos. Here goes…

Overall rule of thumb: Typically it’s OK to eat the rind of any cheese, as long as you can handle the stronger flavor (exceptions, of course, are cloth-bound or wax rinds).

Monte Enebro. This quirky Spanish goat cheese is covered in ash and mold. The flavor is creamy and salty on the inside, and then gets spicy, damp and acidic as you get toward the rind. Its overall funny appearance is said to resemble the leg of a mule!

Quadrello di Bufala. This gamey cheese is made in northern Italy with water buffalo milk. Two SUPER cool brothers took over their father’s farm (their dad had started the farm in 1968 and tragically died the same year). They wanted to do more than just make mozzarella, so they created a bunch of different funky cheeses. This cheese is very barnyard-y; you can taste wet straw, a bit of stink and sweetness at the same time. Tangy, meaty, very rich. Washed in brine.

Epoisses. There are two ways to serve this runny cow’s milk cheese–cut it like a pizza or cut the top off and scoop it out with a spoon (or dip your bread in!). After four weeks of aging in France, this cheese is rinsed in French brandy–and once it crosses the pond, Murray’s washes it in brandy again in their cheese cave to kick up the intensity. Very strong, gooey, stinky. (In fact, it’s so stinky that there’s a rumor that it’s banned from French public transportation.) Like a salty pudding. Fun fact: Napoleon Bonaparte was a huge fan!

Pecorino Foglie de Noce. This raw sheep’s milk cheese is buried in barrels full of walnut leaves while it ages. You can taste the walnut flavor in the cheese, and the rind is grassy and herbaceous. Milky, nutty, sharp and very salty. Great with fresh grapes, since it’s so salty that you need that refreshing palate cleanser. (Fun fact: Did you know that the word “pecorino” doesn’t actually connote a specific cheese, but simply refers to any Italian sheep’s milk cheese?)

Caveman Blue. This blue cheese is made with raw cow’s milk in Oregon. (The Pacific Northwest is a big blue hotspot.) Really fruity and spicy, the flavor is right up front. Has nuances of beef and bacon and grass. Not for people who are timid about blue cheeses! The name “Caveman Blue” is a nod to the nearby town of Grant’s Pass, which is overlooked by a huge hulking statue of a caveman.

Yum! Thank you so much, Sydney and Murray’s! What do you think, my lovelies? Do you dare? How bold are you when it comes to cheeses? (I would love to serve this tray at a dinner party!)

P.S. Remember Toby’s stinker shirt? :) And more cheese-y posts!

(Photos by the amazing Jamie Beck for Cup of Jo)

  1. Thanks for sharing!
    An interesting resource to learn about and buy cheeses is If I recall right it was the subject of either a New York Times article or Wall Street Journal when it appeared on the Internet…


  2. Looks like you guys also made use of some Brooklyn Slate!? Great work – a solid helping of cheese.

  3. Oh dear, you’re probably not reading this anymore but I have the BESTEST suggestion. Cambozola. I always keep a little on hand when I have a hankering for something savory. None of my friends have liked it. But my 3 and 6 year old daughters can’t get enough. I refer to it as ‘stinky cheese’ and they know what I mean.

  4. Stinky cheeses are my favorite!
    My husband and I lived on Epoisses when traveling around France in 2009. We would dip torn pieces of baguette into it…it cost about 5 Euros at truck stops…so yummy!
    Do u ever experience strange dreams after eating cheese? especially after eating ‘stinky cheese’.
    I call them cheesy-mares!

  5. Joanna Goddard says...

    S., haha, i love stinky bishop! good call. and alix, you guys have to get back together, you were so good together :)

  6. I can smell it from here + I am on a break with cheese, just to get some space. This makes me want to get back together right now.

  7. love the photo with the moving skirt!!! xoxo

  8. Oh! I love cheese. :) Thanks for sharing!

  9. AJ says...

    Liz lemon would be so proud!

  10. If you ever get the chance to visit this restaurant; , I highly recommend it! :) Me and my husband live in Norway, but every year we visit the tiny city of Terracina, south of Rome. This restaurant is amazing, and amongst other delicious dishes, they make a perfect cheese plate with matching wines. You can order it both as a starter and as a main course, we had it as a main course, and it was a laaaarge platter with many, many different cheeses, everything from local freshly made mozzarella to stilton and more.

  11. I love cheese, so I’d be willing to try this stinky cheese plate! :) I have to say, the moving photo reminds me of two things: 1)the photo in the movie “The Ring” or 2)the moving photos in the wizarding world of Harry Potter! :) It’s kinda freaky.

  12. Great photos!

    Also, my mouth starts watering when I read this, haha! I LOVE cheese and I’m not afraid of the stinky ones either. I found a new cheese shop, so I’m planning on trying out loads of different ones soon. Great post, thanks for sharing :)

  13. S. says...

    I’m sorry but those are weak sauce stinky cheeses… No Alsatian Munster? Stinking Bishop? Tomme de berger? If you can get past the noses on those guys, then you truly love stinky cheese.

  14. and thanks for these incredible recommendations, i can’t wait to try more cheeses!!!! :) xoxo

  15. franglaise, jamie is a genius at creating those moving images — they’re different from regular animated gifts, since they’re not just animated images, but a moment in a photograph. she has tons more on her blog, they are amazing!! :)

  16. anonymous, the slate board is from murray’s. you can buy them in the store, and i bet if you called them, they could mail you one. it was awesome!!

  17. Mmmm! Now I want to eat cheese!! I like some stinky cheeses but stay away from the moldy looking ones;) Thanks for sharing, will attempt a real cheese platter soon:)

  18. I want a nice glass of red and some cheese right now! Great info and photos!

  19. Well, I grew up in France so I can’t not like smelly cheese. In fact, I love it! My favourite is blue cheese: Roquefort when in France and Blue Stilton when in England. Hmm, that with a glass of red wine is bliss!
    ps: Jamie Beck is an AMAZING photographer. I am intrigued to know how she manages the movement. Is it a type of gif? Bravo to her anyway for all the stunning shots she’s been doing for your blog.

  20. Cheese is my favorite food. I particularly love taleggio, but epoisse is really good, too.

  21. Quite interesting! I’m italian and I must confess I only know italian cheeses and many french, too. But I never heard about Quadrello di bufala, I must do some research about it!

  22. Another terrific cheese post, Joanna! Long live stinky cheeses! I absolutely LOVE stinky cheese, and always make a point to order Epoisses when dining at a restaurant that I trust to serve it “a point.” If you don’t get it at the right time, the flavors and textures just don’t come together.

    To anyone who hasn’t tried it, I highly recommend Grayson, a Virginia-made stinker in the style of Italian Taleggio. Buttery, slightly grassy, rich and delicious! Just perfect smeared over a crusty baguette!

  23. thanks for sharing! that looks so good.
    i´ve been reading your blog for a long time, but maybe never commented before.
    greetings from helsinki!

  24. What a fantastic post! I’m a fairly brave cheese eater, I think. But I have lots of new things to try out now. Thanks!

  25. sirius says...

    I’m french so I’m dare ! I also love your obsession about cheese, dear Joanna. Next time try Munster; also Corsican cheese, those which have a nice worm working its way inside – that very one that explodes in one of Asterix’s comic, the one where they are in Corsica…

  26. Love it ♥

  27. I’m loving these posts/tutorials you’ve been doing, way to keep it fresh!

  28. I fell in love with a french man, and then I fell in love with stinky cheese.

  29. THat looks so good!!! Thanks for this post, I’ll be working on my cheese plates!!

  30. I’m a huge fan of stinky cheese and this platter looks right up my alley! That said, I prefer it served with the option of something sweet like dried apricots or a sweet and tart cranberry relish to balance some of the stink.

  31. Anonymous says...

    This sounds delicious! Love the presentation too – where’s that cheese board from?

  32. princess hajjar says...

    so I love how your dress is moving behind the cheese tray! such a neat effect! thats all i’ve got:)

  33. we have a saying in our family – the stinkier the cheese, the better it is going to taste. i have “starred” your post, so i can look these cheeses up. thanks!

  34. i love stinking cheese… i have la tur in my refrigerator now and although i know it will be worth the wait, every time the door opens i cringe…xx

  35. I love the breezy animations Jamie’s been doing lately. That girl, I tell ya… ;)

    And, to answer your question, no–I probably would not be brave enough to get past the stink for some of these cheeses. But I can definitely appreciate the art of a good cheese plate!

  36. Isabelle R. says...


  37. sounds intriguing! i’d love to put a cheese tray out for easter brunch this year so thank you for the suggestions. if you do a future post can you share what specific beverages would compliment the certain types of cheese?

  38. Now THIS is my kind of cheese plate! The stronger the better! Yum yum yum.

  39. thanks for these lovely comments — can’t wait to try these other cheeses, too.

  40. My only response to this post:

  41. just waiting for my invitation…xx

  42. I’m up for the challenge! The smellier the better :)

    When we were in Paris for our honeymoon we went to a cheese shop and the smell almost knocked my socks off!

  43. que onda esa falda que se mueve!!!

  44. Definitely gonna try a few of those. Thanks for the list!

  45. First, I love the pic of the wind blowing in your dress.

    Second, I’m very very brave when it comes to stinky cheese. The stinkier the better.

  46. Susan says...

    Bring on the stink. Yep. Nice pictures…

  47. Pecorino Foglie de Noce… Delicious!

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful posts about cheese.

    From a fellow lover of cheese.

  48. I can’t wait to try some of these!

  49. sorry. I meant England!

  50. Yummy I love cheese!
    I tried the spiciest most melt in your mouth buffalo jalapeno cheddar this morning and it brought tears to my eyes it was so spicy!

  51. Anonymous says...

    Love putting nuts out with the cheese! Also, love the brown polka dot dress. Is that you?

  52. Anonymous says...

    These sound DELICIOUS!!!!! Another stinky, but yummy cheese is St. Albray. You have to hold your nose and then take a wonderful bite!

  53. I am loving these cheese posts! I don’t think I’ve ever met a cheese I didn’t like. Bring it on!!

  54. Love all these cheeses. I’m a bit of a funky fromage fan. Stay Cheesy!

  55. Oh, how I looooooove stinky cheese. Give me a blue or a triple-crème any day. My fave is probably still either La Tur or Brillat-Savarin.

  56. Thanks for sharing these lovely cheeses! It really makes it easier to plan a cheese plate. I live in Italy for the moment, and I love most of the pecorino’s..right now I’m obsessed with pecorino toscano, from Tuscany. It’s a bit milder, but really tasty.
    I dare everything but blue cheese :)

  57. YUMMY!!! MONTE ENEBROOO!!! LOVE IT! :-) Thanks for sharing Jo!


  58. Obsessed with good quality cheeses and these images are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing! xx

  59. This comment has been removed by the author.

  60. Have you ever had mont d’or? When I visited Paris last fall, we brought some back to the states and it stunk up our fridge for days. Although, the people who ate it absolutely loved it – the stinkier, the better!

  61. heemmaa says...

    sorry , there is a word missing : we use them to feed our babies

  62. kelsi, you should order some from murray’s! :)

  63. haha, heemmaa, good to know! so funny…xo

  64. heemmaa says...

    We french people do not fear any kind af stinky cheeses. We love them so much that we use them to our babies :)

    Anyway, that story about epoisses forbidden in trains is so cute, that I would like it to be true. It is not.
    But what is true is that an epoisses, even tightly stored in a plastic box like a Tupperware keeps perfuming a whole autobus….

  65. I would love to try pecorino but can never seem to find it around here. This is Wisconsin! Aren’t we supposed to have cheeses of all kinds? I even went to the Mars Cheese Castle and they didn’t have it. Sigh…

  66. i love these cheese posts, joanna! every time i go to the store i’ve been trying a new one, thanks to your inspiration.

  67. my husband lived in belgium for a few years and always rants and raves about how delicious the cheeses were…so i plan to throw him a cheese party for his next birthday, as stinky as it may be!

  68. no, way, sarah! that is awesome of you to try to smuggle it back here :)

  69. well I have never met a cheese I didn’t like!

  70. Anonymous says...

    My husband and I just tried Epoisses last night. Sooo stinky but so good!

  71. Yum! My husband and I love sampling cheeses, although I usually prefer savory and he likes the sweet ones. Thanks for sharing these!

  72. ooh! i’m up for it. love these! still mourning the stinky cheeses + hard sausage that got confiscated from my husband and i on our flight home from amsterdam last fall. love jamie’s photos too!


  74. Mmmmh !!! Miam ! Epoisses is quite good on a slice of gingerbread with a thin layer of blackcurrant mustard (these are specialties of the Côte d’Or in the east of France)

  75. Very bold! I will try any cheese! Love this Joanna!

  76. I would eat them all! I’m living in Central America right now and have limited access to really good food. Your cheese posts are killing me! I would do anything for some of that cheese right now.

  77. I just tried zamorano over the weekend. It’s like manchego meets pecorino. SO delicious. It’s my new favorite.

  78. I recently tried some extremely stinky fancy cheeses at a french restaurant in vegas.. they were very different, but overall very nice!

  79. em says...

    finally someone cleared up the rind question! I was never quite sure of the etiqutte on that! Thanks Jo!

  80. Wonderful photos! I love how these photographers are taking photos just for your readers. We feel so special!

    And that swooshing skirt is amazing. Makes me feel like I am eating fresh cheese on the farm!

  81. I totally dare! I love stinky cheese so much and I cant wait to try this selection. Im getting some of the Caveman Blue tomorrow:) Thanks for this great post, Joanna:)

  82. I am daring on all of these EXCEPT the blue cheese (for some reason it’s the one food I’ve never been able to get into)- I’m taking your advice with how to make the perfect plate this weekend though! And, I am going to give Cambazola a shot (the description made it too good to pass up!)


  83. Those all sound amazing! I love me some cheese- the stinkier the better!

  84. Great post! I love all cheeses. Thanks for the pecorino fun fact! I think the walnut flavor sounds great…

  85. oh i’d love to try that mozzarella. and what a sweet story of the brothers behind the cheese. there is always room for more cheese in my life.

  86. i’m a very recent new follower. and i am LOVING your cheese posts because i am a fellow stinky cheese lover. great post, i would be all about trying these! my fiance, on the other hand, not so much…

  87. Very interesting! Though I love a funky blue, I haven’t really branched out to other pungent cheeses. I want to try epoisses but I’m scared :) Love that last photo with the fluttering skirt!

  88. If it’s cheese I’ll try it :)
    (not the same with meats however)

    I’m not a big fan of trying the rind though.

    I think you may just have inspired me to host a cheese party of my own. Thanks for all the info!

  89. THE BLACK BACKGROUND LOOKS SO GOOD!!!! I’m dying, and I love the name of the two cheese stories on the top. Such a thrill!! Thank you for letting me photograph your cheese adventures!