Friday, December 12, 2008

Learning about French Cheese - Part 1

France produces almost 400 different varieties of cheese, each one is as distinctive as a finger print. This wide selection — more than any other country has to offer — includes cheeses made from cow’s, ewe’s or goat’s milk, or in combination. Each region has its specialty — Normandy, France’s kingdom of milk and cream, is famous for unctuous Camembert and Pont l’Evêque; the Loire Valley and Provence for the tangy goat’s milk cheeses; Alsace for robust Munster; the Alpine region for firmer, subtly-flavored cheeses, such as Reblochon and Beaumont; the Paris area for the world’s most prestigious cheese, Brie — even from the Pyrénées comes Chiberta, firm, slightly nutty- flavored, a specialty of which the hardy Basque people are proud.Each region’s specialty is made according to tradition which has existed for centuries. The professional cheese- maker learns his craft as painstakingly as an attorney the law. France’s reputation for being a paradise for cheese lovers is well-deserved.
To fully appreciate this you must understand that there is a language all unto itself involving cheese and here are just a few keywords to know:
Bleu: The French word for blue cheese

Brebis: Cheese made from sheep’s milk

Chèvre: Cheese made from goat’s milk; chèvre is the French word for goat

Fondue: No double-dipping allowed! From the French “fondre” or “to melt,” fondue is a shared dish usually, the term was originally used with cheese but you do find other types.

Tome or Tomme: A small round of mountain cheese

Terroir: The influence of climate, vegetation, water and soil on the raw source milk used to make the fine Cheeses of France combined with specific production techniques and traditions passed down through generations of accomplished cheesemakers
So now our first class of cheese, Double and triple creme cheeses:
According to French law, double crème cheese gets its classification when it contain a minimum of 60 per cent butter fat (rnatière grasse) per gram, and triple crème when it contain a minimum of 75 per cent butter fat per gram.

Bellétoile- A soft-ripened triple crème, with no rind, it is easily spreadable. It comes plain or herb-flavored.

Boursault- Another triple crème, soft-ripened cheese available in a round. This cheese is very creamy almost like a mixture of Brie and heavy cream.

Boursin- A fresh cow’s milk, double crème, white with an edible crust. It has a tangy flavor and is available with herbs or pepper.

Brillat-Savarin- From Normandy, this triple crème is a thick, plump, white disk, with a buttery texture and elasticity.

Excelsior - Similar to Boursin and Boursault, without spices or herbs. Contains 72 percent butter fat.

Fromage de Monsieur Fromage- A double crème, first made in Normandy about 75 years ago.

Gervais- Its texture is similar to that of American-type cream cheese, but its flavor is richer and slightly tangy.

La Bouille- This rich, triple crème is not flavored, but has its own special tang.

La Bourse - This is a triple crème, flavored with herbs and garlic.

- This crème is a mixture of cow’s and goat’s milk, which makes it a less fatty, drier cheese. It is either flavored with herbs or with pepper.

Petit Suisse - One of France’s most popular double crèmes, this cheese may contain from 60 to 75 per cent butter fat.
So print this list and go to the store and start eating!!


Michelle et Abigail said...

It has been brought to my attention that some of my cheese colors and hole-age may be off, so don't take my word for it go to the store and start eating!!

sutros said...

A good story

GK Chesterton: “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

Voila: This book is a poetic view of 30 of the best loved French cheeses with an additional two odes to cheese. Recipes, wine pairing, three short stories and an educational section complete the book.

From a hectic life on Wall Street to the peace and glories of the French countryside lead me to be the co-founder of Ten years later with the words of Pierre Androuet hammering on my brain:

“Cheese is the soul of the soil. It is the purest and most romantic link between humans and the earth.”

I took pen and paper; many reams later with the midnight oil burning Tasting to Eternity was born and self published.

I believe cheese and wine lovers should be told about this publication.