The awesomeness of French cheese is overwhelming. How does one try them all? How does one know where to start? I don’t know! But I can try. I missed out blogging on cheese last trip to Paris, although I might be able to gather together some information from then too… but we’ll see how I manage this time.
To start with, from a local fromagerie on the Left Bank, Androuet, a ‘Master Cheesemaker’, I chose ‘Le Moelleux du Revard’ because the kind woman there said it went well with red wine, and I was planning on having a glass of red.
She also advised that cow’s cheese is fine with red, and goat’s cheese for white. Generally. This cheese had a strong enough flavour to match the red, but not too strong for my liking. It was chewy-soft and with a band of pine around it, tasted a bit herby and a bit fruity. Those I tasted a bit of the rind and it was ashy and sandy and obviously was not to be eaten..
The folks at the UK’s La Fromagerie give a better description than I could. Hopefully, they don’t mind too much that I’ve stolen their image here, if I say they look like this best farking online cheese shop I’ve ever seen. Mmmm.
But the thing about Paris is you can get crazy-good cheese at the local supermarkets. Like how can this cheese cost only 2 euros. TWO EUROS. An unpasteurised cheese of rennet, this delight, ‘sweet and creamy’ basically tasted to me like butter and cream, somehow hardened just enough to count as a cheese. It had a nice milky flavour or texture but basically: lush and yummy. La Fromagerie, again, describes it as:
patches of white and blue bloomy moulds after a little ripening. The inside pate is soft, golden, and lactic, with a fruity, almost blackcurrant acid edge. And that’s another thing I find amazing here. Cheeses have their own seasons! And change with age, over that period.
From my upbringing the two phases of cheese were edible, and when mold started growing on the outside (and even then, although I’ve since read one is not supposed to, I’d just cut off the moldy parts and eat it anyways).
In any case, I think this cheese was rather too soft to have on its own, and as this is a supermarket variety of the cheese (albeit ‘gourmet’), there are more expensive versions out there. But gosh, could they taste even better than this? I cannot imagine.
In the meantime, a little return to last year, on New Year’s Day, when we were introduced to Mont D’Or. A winter-only cheese, it’s described by one of my favourite food writers David Lebovitz: ‘Called “the holy grail of raw milk cheeses”, Mont d’Or (also called Vacherin Mont d’Or, and Vacherin Haut-Doubs) is truly a spectacular cheese.’
It was brought out in a huge round on a trolley, and I think in it’s original spruce box, and then the waiter scooped up a bit each on plates for each of us. It was really special though I’ll have to expand my vocabulary to say something other than soft, runny, creamy and delicious.
Falling into a routine of treating myself to a fancy cheese from Androuet and than trying a cheap one from Monopole, I decided that the roves des garrigues was particularly attractive (as well as affordable), a shiny sphere of goat’s cheese (wrapped in cellophane) sitting in a little paper cake liner and then in a wood-strip nest. Made of the goats of the Rove breed and infused with ‘rosemary and thyme’ and herbs from the south of France, I found it a mild but pleasant super-soft spreadable cheese, with hints of lemon and herbs. 3.85 euros for some cheesy goodness. In the meantime, for not much less, 2.68 Euros, I got an impressive triangle of St Nectaire from the supermarket. It comes from Auvergne in Central France. Apparently this cheese comes in different varieties, and aged has an impressive smelly and moldy rind but I think this is a young, basic version. Left out of the fridge for an hour, it started to have a stronger flavour but was still pretty mild. Lovely slightly chewy texture. It’s supposed to taste of hazelnuts but I didn’t get that.