After dinner at a friend’s apartment this weekend, they rolled out a sizable wheel of cheese to eat before dessert…which since moving to France, has become my favorite course of the meal. But usually you present one or a few selected cheeses, not a big round.
Nevertheless, they slapped it down in the middle for the table where the host took a hunting-type knife, started hacking off shards of it, and passing them around the table. As we started eating, all of the sudden the whole table went completely quiet. (Which is a real rarity in Paris.)
We all looked around the table, and everyone’s eyes lit up; “C’est incroyable!”
Indeed, this was an amazing cheese. Similar to pecorino, this was simply called a tomme de brebis, or sheep’s milk cheese. But it had a milky, crackly chew with a little bit of a bite, and if you’ve ever tasted something that made you stop and say—woah!, you know what I’m talking about. And in a country where good cheese is pretty commonplace, for everyone to stop and take notice…well, you’ve got something very special on your plate.
When I asked where they got it, they told me it’s sold by a man who parks his boat in the north of Paris and just sells a few specialty items. They pulled out his list, which mentioned a few very interesting wines, some tinned specialties from Gascony (like foie gras and cassoulet), and most importantly, this cheese. The only problem is, you need to buy 4 wheels.
Which, in reality, is probably not that much of a problem. I’m certain I can find a few others to go in on them with me.
Unfortunately this is one of those weeks where I’m overloaded with work, and every time I pick up the phone or open my email, it seems another good friend decided to surprise me and drop into town. (Can’t you people somehow stagger yourselves?)
And all I want to do is head to the secret rendez-vous point and see what else is on offer. And, of course, stock up on more of this exceptional cheese. But it’s going to have to wait. At least I have a nice chunk to tide me over until can get up there, and of course I’m not telling where it is yet since I want to make sure there’s plenty of stuff for me when I do make it.
I was happy when the host cut the wheel into three chunks and handed them over to each of us as we left.
Boat cheese? Who knew?
I just can’t wait to find out where there’s more…