Tête de Moine (Monk’s Head) is a very fun (and stinky!) cheese. You buy it in whole wheels and shave off thin curls with a device called a Girolle. In French, girolles are a type of chanterelle mushroom, and the device was named for the beautiful curls of cheese it produces which are supposed to resemble the mushroom cap.
It used to be damn near impossible to locate a Girolle in America, but then internet shopping was invented, so now they’re easy to find on Amazon. You can actually get the cheese on Amazon as well, although I was able to find it at Whole Foods (well, I had to call around and go a couple Whole Foods down the road, but still—I found it locally).
So the trick with the Girolle is that you don’t press down too hard. Light pressure, move it in a circle. Too much downward pressure and you risk cracking the wheel. The purpose of the frilly cheese flowers (besides looking pretty) is that they expose a bunch of surface area to the air which helps maximize the smell (I did mention it was a smelly cheese) and develop the flavor.
I am amused by the official Tête de Moine website. It has a specific section for recipes, but since how the cheese is served is as important as the cheese itself, all the recipes are basically “Make a thing and then put a cheese curl on top.”
This is a really fun addition to any hors d’oeuvres spread. The presentation is beautiful, and it’s fun to shave and serve. To my friends: I’ll put out an APB on Twitter the next time we buy a wheel, and you can come over and try it. Highly recommended!