Monday, November 10, 2008

"Age is not important unless you're a cheese." -- Helen Hayes



I'm in France right now, spending time with my family. While the reason for this visit (my dad's health) is very serious, we are still in France, and so my sister, stepmother and I are indulging in a Stinky Cheese Jamboree. Both Martha and I love to wander around grocery stores when we travel, and since I can't smuggle our purchases back for blog readers, I'll give you a verbal tasting.




This subtle creamy white cheese is made of goats' milk, and has a lovely sculptural rind that reminds me of the fallen marble columns outside Classical Greek temples. It is called Tomme de Chevre, tomme being a generic word for a wheel of cheese and chevre being the word for goat.




This beautiful aged cheese is Mimolette extra-vieille. This style of cheese was created at the request of King Louis XIV, who wanted a French cheese that resembled Edam. I found this delicious cheese very complex and difficult to describe. It is somewhat chewy, and entirely unlike Cheddar, which is somewhat resembles.




Saint-Felicien moule a la louche cheese is a raw-milk (unpasteurized) cheese made of cow's milk. It is aged for between two and six weeks, and is served in a ceramic tub. Moule a a louche means "molded in a ladle." That's "molded" as in "formed," not as in "moldy." This is a particularly stinky and delicious soft cheese.




This is the most unique cheese on our cheese plate. It s called Ecorce de Sapin, and it is a soft cow's milk cheese that is aged in a wrapper of fir or spruce bark. The cheese is served inside the bark wrapper, and sits on a little wooden plate. Since you cannot cut through the tree bark with a knife, this soft cheese is served with a spoon.

Tomorrow, Anne is taking a much needed break from caring for my dad. She's going to spend a few days at the beach (that's the French Riviera, y'all) with her family. On her way out of town, she'll be dropping me and Martha at the weekly market. I wonder what goodies we'll find there?

14 comments:

Syndee said...

Thanks for the virtual cheese. I am a cheese lover, but it's not so great for my cholesterol :(

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Yummy food, enjoyed in moderation.

That's the ticket!

gollygee said...

....SO....VERY...JEALOUS!!! An entire meal's worth of cheese?!?!?! It's too much, I tell you! I want to go there SO BADLY!!! :D

Anonymous said...

Well, for a plain old brie-on-a-Ritz guy, this post was a delight! And the photos are great.

Frank (Grumpy)

cath said...

I'm trying not to drool too much.
With your photos, I can almost smell it!!!!

Fluffy Cow said...

Is it wrong that I'm a little turned on?

Amazing...

Matt said...

Lisa - try to get some epoisse while you're there. It'll change your life.

Gina said...

MMMMMMmmmmmmm. . . .thank you for this!

It just occurred to me that one of my most distinct memories of you and Martha together involved stinky cheese...Remember that New Year's Eve wandering around the chilly city after the stinky cheese fondue filled apartment party?

Anonymous said...

hey, the MAIL is still a good way to get cheese to your regular blog readers, eh? Now that my mouth is watering and I have to settle for some god-awful cheese whiz out of a SPRAY CAN! AUGH! THE OUTRAGE!

On a lighter note, I got confirmation of my Barack Obama swearing in ceremony tickets. Very Cool!

Annalisa

Kay/The Little Foxes said...

How delicious! Thanks for sharing..... That bark cheese looks like salmon gone bad..... but I'd gobble it up in a heartbeat!!!

Anonymous said...

Lisa & Robb
Thanks for the Helen Hayes quote. I now believe it absolutely.
But also consider what the French have given us aside from cheese; ie:(1)after our win at Saratoga, sending their fleet to force the surrender of the Brits at Yorktown; (2) Their having a revolutiom shortly thereafter to become a democracy; (3) Showing us what was good cheese (4)Sending over the Statue of Liberty to us; (5) more good cheese so we could copy (or try to copy);(6) Holding the trenches from 1914 to 1917 until we woke up and sent over Sgt. York; (7) Added great booze plus cheese to fuse our roaring
20's; (8) Absorbing like a giant sponge the invasion of Adolf (except in the over sensitive South) until we could retool our minds as well as our industry, (and missing all that cheese and wine); (9) and so it comes to modern history; France as a staunch ally in the UN except when confronted by the latest (and lamented President Bush who lied us into the horror of Iraq) Vive La France for knowing a lie when it sees one and thanks over and over for the sharing of your friendship, your wine and your extraordinary ability to create cheeses.
Lisa and Robb, you both know I can't stop when it comes spouting History.
Love, Dad B

Mina said...

I'm having a question about cheese that perhaps you might be able to answer. I had what looked like a lovely triangle of Brie. I brought it up to the Apple Hill event and carried it around all day in a soft pack cooler with ice packs that slowly melted. We wound up going to a pub instead of picnicking because it was chilly and we'd fallen behind schedule. When I got home late that night, the cheese still felt cool to touch though the ice packs had gone soggy so I put it back into the fridge. The next day I tried to eat it and it gave me the oddest sensation. I felt like my nasal cavities were overwhelmed with essence of ammonia. Afraid it had gone bad, I stopped eating it and tossed it in the garbage. But the lingering question remains, is there any way that it might have been *supposed* to taste this way? Have you encountered any stinky cheeses along the way that might shed light upon my dilemma?

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Mina:

A google search on brie and ammonia turns up some interesting information.

Apparently "over-ripe" Brie does smell of ammonia, the smell being produced by the same micro-organism that ripens the cheese in the first place.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brie_(cheese)

http://www.discusscooking.com/forums/f22/bad-brie-44216.html

Mina said...

Thank you for the links! Definitely sounds like the Brie had gone bad. Glad I tossed it out. One of the comments on the Brie discussion you linked me to mentioned temperature fluctuations as a potential factor in the cheese going wrong. I'll bet that's what was to blame.

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