I've always loved Munster cheese, and since revisiting Alsace last summer to report a story about choucroute garnie, I've been craving it. If, like me, you grew up on the American deli variety, with its brazenly artificial orange rind and its texture like soft silicone, discovering Alsatian Munster is like finally tasting fresh-squeezed orange juice after a lifetime of Tang. A good, ripe one will have a pungent, briny exterior and an oozy interior that's sweet as fresh milk and heady as a barnyard all at once. The pale-apricot-colored rind will have been washed repeatedly in salt water throughout the aging process to inhibit the growth of unwanted molds and encourage the proliferation of the helpful bacteria that give the cheese its supercharged flavor. Some say it's the high protein content of the milk produced by the Vosgienne cows raised in the region that makes Alsatian Munster so much better than the cheeses called Muenster in Germany and the U.S.; others insist they detect the distinctive flowers and wild grasses of Vosges Mountain pastures in the cheese's sweet, grassy notes. In Alsace, at restaurants like Auberge de l'Ill, near Colmar, a nice, ripe hunk of Munster will often come to the table along with a little bowl of toasted caraway seeds and a glass of racy Alsatian gewurztraminer. The combination of the bittersweet caraway, the wild honeysuckle perfume of the gewurztraminer, and the luscious, odiferous Munster seems perfectly calibrated to take you right to the brink of sensory overload, a pretty exciting place to be. I've been trying to get back there for months.