When you first glanced at the image, maybe you thought, flowers? Butter? White chocolate? Nope, it’s cheese. Specifically, Tête de Moine from Switzerland. According to its AOC/promotional site, TdM is a “semi-hard cheese with a silky body which easily melts in your mouth.” What probably makes it melt so easily is that crazy rosette configuration it’s sliced into, which exposes the innards of the cheese to air and deepens the flavors and magically transports you to the Alps. Actually, it gets better: this method (and the cheese) was invented by the monks of the Bellaly abbey, making it as authentic and old-school as any European foodstuff can certifiably attain. Monks are unimpeachable keepers and promulgators of tradition and quality, and they must believe in this stuff if they called it “monk head,” which is the unpoetic (and unappetizing) translation Tête de Moine. Try it yourself at Zest, where it’s occasionally served on the Chef’s Hand-Selected Cheese Plate ($12). Call ahead to make sure you show up on the right day, because the monks would never forgive you.
[Photo: Zesmerelda/flickr, one of our favorite photographers. Good job, Z!]