Yesterday, I dashed off to the large Carrefour market in our neighborhood and purchased three random cheeses for the cheese course. I also ended up buying a lovely cluster of muscat grapes simply because there was a man handing out samples in the produce department and talking about how great French muscat grapes are with cheese. Yes, I was ‘sold’ on the grapes; but, I must say, they really do bring out the flavor of the cheese.
I’m doing this cheese blogging for a few reasons. Personally, taking the time to actually research the cheese I’m eating is not only helping me remember it, but it’s also aiding in my knowledge of French geography. Whenever you are presented with a cheese course at a dinner party in France, 8 times out of 10 you will not only be told what the cheese is, but where it came from, as well. This past spring there was also quite a bit of chatter about how certain types of French cheese are disappearing. This simply will not do. It is the tale of small farms versus the big guys and I hope and pray (it’s o.k. to pray for cheese, right?) that the small farms win and hold steady.
In France you can buy cheese direct from the farm, at one of the fromageries or at any and all supermarkets. In the larger chain markets there will usually be an entire aisle devoted to certain types of cheese: shredded gruyere for the quiche, slices of gruyere or emmental for croque monsieur sandwiches and all the soft-spread cheeses. There will also be a deli counter specifically devoted to cheese. You can either have them cut off a slab per your request of you can check-out what’s available in the pre-wrapped case. All three cheeses listed below were grabbed from the pre-wrapped case.
First up, a Comté from Les Fromageries Arnaud located in the French region of the Jura mountains. I’ve never been much of a food connoisseur, but I think that may be starting to change. If you live in France, I don’t think you have much of a choice. Food, the art of the dinner party, wine – it’s just such a huge part of the culture here, but it’s not so ‘in-your-face’ like it is back in the States. And so, my foodie critique of this particular cheese? Eating this cheese, I experienced a few different flavors. To me, it started out with a fresh farm taste and then became rather nutty. I think a splash of red wine while eating it would enhance the flavor. But, like I said, I’m not a food-is-my-life type of person, but simply someone eating cheese.
Weight purchased: .252 kg
Price: 4.51 Euro
Prix/Kilo 17.90 Euro
Up next, a Beaumont from Savoie. This is a raw cow’s milk cheese and it was very mild with a great texture, but there wasn’t much of a wow factor while eating it. And yes, there are – gasp! – non-pasteurized cheeses here and no one is kneeling over and developing some sort of bizarre stomach disorder. Apparently, there used to be a whole heck of a lot more non-pasteurized cheeses, but then that started to change. Why, I wonder?Name of cheese: Beaumont de Savoie Weight purchased: .352 kg
Price: 5.00 Euro
Prix/Kilo 14.20 Euro
And the last cheese sampled yesterday evening was a lovely little chèvre from the city of Alvignac in Quercy. A raw goat’s milk cheese that is shaped into a small log. Chèvre is slowly becoming one of my favorites here and I am starting to like them with a bit more of a kick. This flavor of this one was fine enough, but again, nothing to over-the-top. And yes, the muscat grapes were absolutely delicious.
Weight purchased: 108g = 1 piece
Price: 2.90 Euro
prix/kg 26.85 Euro