A foodstuff to which I have an enduring penchant and has received insufficient attention on this website is cheese. Happily, I like many different types from many different places and, although I really appreciate British cheese, which is enjoying a Renaissance I never foresaw, I also hold the cheeses of France in high esteem. Middle-age and a degree of calorie consciousness prohibit me from consuming as much cheese as I did formerly but I still enjoy eating it and I am a long way from throwing in the towel.
To my great pleasure my local purveyor of groceries have now started stocking a 'board' of French, medal-winning, cheeses. This means I have access to both variety and portion control which are both pluses from my standpoint.
Herewith their latest offering – going clockwise from the top lefthand side.
1. Tomme de Brebis
This is a sheeps milk cheese that is traditionally produced from high grazing sheep in the Pyrenees. Typically, it has a low fat content, quite rich creamy and nutty nuances and it hardens with age. It is often served with black cherry jam and I think pairs well with red wine. Some wine purists, such as the late Michael Broadbent, think drinking red wine with cheese is inadvisable but I respectfully disagree.
2. Bleu d'Auvergne
This blue cows milk cheese from the Auvergne enjoys its' own Appéllation Contrôlée and is 'veined' by a process discovered and developed by Antoine Roussel in the mid-1850s that involves it being 'needled' with rye bread mould before being matured in cellars. With notes of salt, spice and wild flowers and a creamy texture it makes a classic accompaniment to sweet white wine.
3. Crottin de Chèvre
The archetypal goats cheese that can be enjoyed in its' creamy youth or with considerable age with a harder rind and more complex flavours. It works well when served warm as the centerpiece of a goat's cheese salad with fresh lettuce leaves and a walnut oil dressing - white Sancerre is an ideal wine to partner the dish.
A semi-soft, washed-rind cheese from the Auvergne made from the milk of 'Salers' cows. With an ivory colour, smooth texture and subtle hay and mushroom tastes this is a welcome addition to any cheese board and pairs well with young, fruit-red wines such as Beaujolais.
5. Quince jam
Made from quince pulp and originally of Turkish origin this specialist condiment is believed by many aficionados to be the ideal partner to a broad variety of cheeses.
This cows milk cheese, that is made in Picardy and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais near its eponymous village, has an orange coloured washed rind, a soft consistency and nutty flavours. It enjoys a strong local following and is gaining in popularity on export markets.