Think of the smell of cheap rubber. The kind of smell you might encounter at the shoe section of your local department store. Now think about that same smell, only burnt — as if a fire had just torn through the department store and you were standing in the burnt remains of the shoe section. Got it? Well that is the best way I can describe the smell of Reblochon cheese — the main ingredient of Tartiflette. You may be thinking that I’m doing a bad job of selling this recipe, but bear with me.
As I’ve come to understand, in the cheese world, smell doesn’t equal taste. Take Époisses for example, which according to the New York Times, is “arguably the most deliciously pungent, the most highly regarded and — fairly or unfairly — most infamous raw-milk cheese in France, if not in the whole world”. It smells horrid. It’s been banned from public transport in France and I’ve been banned from leaving it in the fridge at home. But put it in your mouth and the experience changes completely. The smell disappears and you are left with a wonderfully creamy texture with subtle hints of earth and nuts. Reblochon is similar and the change is profound when it’s cooked. You get this uniquely complex flavour and the more familiar it becomes, the more you enjoy it. Continue reading