Recently in Cheese category

Saint Marcellin

saint marcellin

If you go to Lyon, you’ll find Saint Marcellin pretty much everywhere. It’s the best-known cheese from that region, and the user friendly-sized disks are inevitably piled high at each and every cheese shop you step in to. Locals bake them at home and slide the warm disks onto salads, and I’ve not been to a restaurant in that city that didn’t have Saint Marcellin on the menu doing double-duty as the cheese or the dessert course. Or both. At the outdoor market stands, you can see how popular they are with les Lyonnais. And if you don’t believe me, their presence is so pervasive that I once bought a ticket on the bus in Lyon and instead of change, the driver handed me a ripe Saint Marcellin instead.

Because they hover around €3, I used to pick one up at the fromagerie since they’re an inexpensive way to add variety to a cheese platter. The ones I’d buy were decent, although I never heard anyone put a dab on their bread and say, “Good gosh David, that cheese is friggin’ amazing!” (Although I’m not sure “friggin” is a well-used word around here.)

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Warm Baked Goat Cheese

cheese plate

It’s funny, because some people get the impression that I don’t like where I live. Which is kind of strange, because I don’t understand why anyone would think that I’d live somewhere where there was a dearth of clothes dryers if I didn’t like it. And if you saw the paperwork that I have to fill out just to stay here, well, let’s just say that one really has to want to live here to plow through it all.

I’ve read a lot of books extolling what a glorious place Paris is, with tales of skipping along Left Bank streets, happily shopping for new shoes whenever the mood strikes, and resting in one of those cafés on the boulevard St. Germain sipping a $7 coffee.

They certainly paint a rosy view of the city. But then I realized something: The authors of those books no longer live here.

Like all cities, Paris is a real place. A lot of people understandably come here looking for old bistros and quaint cafés, often to find those kinds of place disappearing, or disappointing. Then they’ll step into La Maison du Chocolate, take a bite of a Rigoletto Noir, filled with caramelized butter mousse, and realize that life doesn’t get any better than that.

Sometimes I’ll be riding my bike around at night by the Seine, under the softly-glowing lights. I’ll look around, and think, “Paris is breaktakingly beautiful.” Other times, I’ll scratch my head when the bank tells me they have no change that day. Or stare at the pile of paperwork that’s arrived in the mail, filled with endless forms that need to be filled out, and think, “Can someone remind me why I moved here?”

Anyhow, I still live here and accept that like anywhere, Paris is a real city with its flaws and its fabulousness.

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Comté

goat cheese

There’s sort of some rhyme and reason to my cheese-buying habits. One fromagerie might have the most amazing butter, so I’ll trek over to the place St. Paul to buy a packet of it. But if I want a round of Selles-sur-Cher, I’ll go to the fromager at the marche d’Aligre who always has beautiful ones on display. For St. Nectaire and Cantal, I’ll only buy those from the husky Auvergnate dude at my market on Sunday mornings and refuse to even taste one from anywhere else. His are just so good, I don’t bother doing any comparison shopping.

Last week my neighbors from San Francisco came to visit and I took them to my Sunday market, where I figured we could gather the ingredients for a semi-homemade meal, sans the tablescape.

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I Heart Neufchâtel

neufchâtel heart

Neufchâtel got a makeover when it crossed the Atlantic, to the states, where it’s used to refer to low-fat cream cheese, which bears no resemblance to true Neufchâtel, a cheese that certainly doesn’t fall anywhere near that category.

The cheese is from Normandy, a region that few would argue produces the best cheeses in the world. Camembert, Livarot, and the especially creamy Brillat-Savarin are some of the more famous Norman cheeses, but I’m also happy that Neufchâtel is included in that privileged group.

Neufchâtel is available in industrial or fermier (“farm-produced”) versions. All versions are made with cow’s milk, although sometimes it’s made with raw milk, others are made from milk that’s been pasteurized.

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Caillé

caillé

The yogurt aisle in any French supermarket is the largest, longest, most well-stocked aisle in the store. (Wine, I think, runs a close second.) While there’s a disconcerting number of dubious treats there (coconut macaron or lemon madeleine-flavored yogurt anyone?) the simplest varieties are wonderful.

I’m hopelessly boring, but I like whole milk plain yogurt, which is my afternoon snack. I eat it with dried fruits, a tipple of berry syrup, or just slicked with honey. Luckily yogurt here comes in handy 4-ounce portions, the perfect size, and I don’t miss those hefty pots of purple, super sweet, gelatin-thickened gloop, which barely resembles what yogurt even is.

In between all the yogurts here, you’ll find a few oddities buried in there.

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Gougères: A Recipe for French Cheese Puffs

gougères

One thing I learned during the last few days of the past year could be summed up in four words: Don’t ever turn fifty.

Do whatever you can do to avoid it. I’m still reeling from the trifecta, the one-two-three punch of Christmas, my Birthday, then New Year’s Eve, the last of which put me way over the top. And now that I’m in my declining years, recovery is much harder than it was just a mere week ago. I’m going downhill, fast, my friends.

The first thing I thought when I woke up this morning, my head clouded by a combination of Krug champagne, Château Lafite Rothchild 1964 and 1969 (not that I know the difference, but since the ’69 was in a 4-bottle, a gigantic double magnum with a funky-looking label…I knew we were drinking something special) was right from the “What on earth was I thinking?” file.

I was wondering why I invited five people over for dinner and drinks tonight.

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I Found The Pascal Beillevaire Butter!

I finally got a chance to track down that butter I found worthy of rapture from Le Jules Verne. Oddly, when I searched the name, I found out that I actually commented on way back in 2006. How I forgot about it, I’ll never, ever know.

bread & butter

It’s from Pascal Beillevaire, a chain of cheese shops in France. While their cheeses are very good, I have a little bit of difficulty getting past the beret-wearing salesclerks, theatrical straw mats, and hyper-bright lighting.

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Madame Loïk

Madame Loik

One of the things I promised myself when I moved to France, was not to buy cheese in the supermarket. It’s not that you can’t get good cheese there. You can. But if people continue buying cheese at the supermarket, eventually les fromageries will lose business and disappear, which would be a terribly sad thing for France.

And even sadder for me, since I’d probably move.

But there is one damsel I’ve become acquainted with, and she’s unattached, not affiliated with any fromager: Madame Loïk.

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