U Bel Fiuritu, a semi-firm, washed-rind sheep’s milk cheese, is made by the Pierucci family of cheesemakers of Sarl Fromagerie Pierrucci, in the Casinca region of Corsica. Run by 4th-generation cheesemaker Michel Pierucci, the fromagerie collects the milk of as many as 80 farms in the region, transforming them into their line of cheeses, both traditional recipes and new interpretations of Corsican classics. I previously reviewed their A Casinca, a washed-rind goat’s milk cheese.
The name, U Bel Fiuritu, means “Small, Beautiful Flower”, and the ewes, grazing on the scrubby, redolent “Maquis” of the Corsican hillsides, imbue the milk with a wonderful herbal fragrance. The amber-red rind is frosted with patches of white mold, sticky and a bit gritty from regular washes during the 4-10 week aging. The paste is white in the center turning ivory towards the rind, scattered with small eyes.
The creamy, rich paste is complex in flavor, milky, herbaceous, sweet and nutty, sheepy and meaty and with a wonderful pungent bite and spice. This is a cheese that becomes exponentially stinkier the longer it ages: this wheel was near the sweet spot, still a bit firm at the center but ripening inwards, strong in aroma but well-balanced in flavor and with a mild finish.
Purchased at Formaggio Essex.