from the Alsace
region of France
, and not as you might have guessed, the Munster
region of Ireland
. Also refered to (mainly by Americans, I believe) as Muenster.
In the VII century, monks came to settle around the monastery which had given its name to the town (Munster, from “monastère”, meaning monastery). They reared cows and used their milk to make cheese. Munster cheese was born, and continues to be made in the area.
The cheese is a semi-soft cheese, with small air bubbles in it and a rind that is usually a sort of orange colour, though the more 'prized' ones are usually red. The flavour of a young Munster is quite bland, one shouldn't however be too dismisive. A properly ripe Munster has a taste which I have seen described as 'quite assertive' and also sharp, neither of which do justice to the full, creamy gorgeousness that envelopes your palette when you eat a ripe Munster. A word of warning though - a ripe Munster has one of the least appetising aromas of any cheese on the planet. It smells like really stale, sweaty feet - and it doesn't just whiff a bit when you get up close - this thing can leave an entire kitchen in serious need of fumigating.
Ideal with a nice fruity, full-bodied red - if you feel like keeping it french, try a beaujolais.