Stinking Bishop is Britain's smelliest cheese. In Wallace and Gromit: the Curse of the Were-Rabbit a plate of Stinking Bishop cheese revives Wallace from the dead. When I saw the movie I had to have the cheese. The odor smells like what I imagine Durian fruit would smell like - a blend of feces and rotting flesh - other people have compared it to old gym socks, a locker room or an outhouse. It is marvelously creamy and buttery with a touch of bitter on the end, much milder than the smell and quite delicious. Like beer it gets funkier as it ages. I’ve been enjoying a chunk for the past several days with some of my favorite beers. It reminds me of when I first returned home from college and my Dad said I like your beard, just don’t wear it in the house. Nancy likes the cheese as long as I eat it outside in the garden.
Stinking Bishop is a washed rind cheese. Like beer, cheese is a fermented product, and the practice of washing cheese with a local fermented beverage to preserve and flavor it, is an ancient and natural practice. Stinking Bishop Cheese originated in 1972 when farmer Charles Martell and Son started making cheese at Laurel Farm, Dymock, Gloucestershire in the South of England. They started with the milk of their Gloucester heifers. Gloucester cattle date from the middle ages when they were valued for producing meat and milk along with their ability to pull a cart or plow. They produce much less milk than Holsteins but it is much richer in milk fat as you will discover when eating the cheese. In 1796 a Gloucester cow provided Edward Jenner with the first small pox vaccine and probably saved our ancestors’ lives. There are only about 700 registered Gloucester females and Charles and his son have about 70 of them. The Martells have a 300 gallon cheese tank and manage to make 123 pounds of cheese per day. The Martels get the stink by washing the cheese with Perry (hard cider from pears) made from the Stinking Bishop pear. The pear gets its name not from clergymen in need of a bath but from a notoriously disagreeable and unlikable local character named Bishop who developed the pear in the 19th century. Sometime after his passing, the locals immortalized their dislike for said Mr. Bishop by naming the pear, Stinking Bishop. The cheese recipe most likely originated with Cistercian monks during the Middle Ages. The cheese is soft, smelly and at room temperature slightly runny. Some people compare the taste to a mild vinegar - it might evoke a mild, all malt vinegar and it has a bitter aftertaste. Mine tastes reasonably young and buttery, creamy wonderful. I ordered the stuff from igourmet.com. You can also order it from Amazon.com.
I paired my first bite of Stinking Bishop with Brasserie Fantôme Fantôme Saison D'Erezée - Hiver. The funkiness of the beer and the funkiness of the cheese dance around each other and finally merge. The beer’s aftertastes with a little fruit, citrus rind, floral, herb and spice unite with and mellow the cheese aftertastes. When you tire of smearing Stinking Bishop on your baguette, you can sit back and enjoy the lace on the glass. The Bruery White Oak (11.5% alcohol by volume) - a blend of wheatwine aged in bourbon barrels and Mischief - their Golden Strong Ale also pairs nicely with Stinking Bishop. The fruit, coconut, vanilla, wheat, and yeast flavors from the beer go very well with the funky barnyard aromas and creamy, buttery flavors from the Stinking Bishop. The cheese’s bitter finish is made for beer such as White Oak. White Oak’s very creamy soft carbonation matches and yet cuts through the creamy buttery flavors of the cheese. Both the beer and the cheese have a big presence, well balanced complexity and an elegance. I would like to try Stinking Bishop with Dunkertons Organic Perry or E Z Orchards Poire just to see what a Perry tastes like with a cheese washed in Perry I would also like to try it with Hidden Legend Peach Mead or a Sake like Takara Sake USA Inc. Sho Chiku Bai Nama Sake. Stinking bishop is a great special occasion cheese and is well worth hunting down and enjoying.