French Cheese Platter

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Loving French cheese is not always easy. Especially if you are in places where they are not readily available and your cravings shooting up the roof.

But while in France, a day without cheese is unthinkable.

Making a nice cheese platter when entertaining is always such a pleasure. Discovering new ones and exchanging them with friends makes the experience very satisfying. But only if no one is allergic to dairy products. Concocting a cheese platter is a sign that I have ran out of ideas of what to cook. So, a luscious cheese platter with all its accompaniments becomes a sublime supper.

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My knowledge of cheese is like wine. Not too prolific, but I trust my  taste. Quite predictable too.

A good fresh Chèvre, a Brie , a good Blue or a nice Tomme would always please my palate. Hence, my preference goes to the goaty and the hard boisterous mountain ‘tommes’. My husband loves the Fromage Frais Fermier though, which is a fresh, salted, unripened cheese that comes directly from the farmer. We pick a few each time we are at the marché when in France.

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My favourite remains the Cabretou. I share the description made by Loulou on her blog : La Fete du fromage on this cheese which reads :

Perfectly aged, and with a luxurious flavor to die for, Cabretou is made from pasteurized goat’s milk and produced in the picturesque Ariège departement where it is matured in caves for 18 months. This cheese is magnificent! Rich and substantial, with a gorgeous creaminess that I fell head over heels for. It has a dense, meaty texture and an ultra smooth flavor with no acidity whatsoever. Cabretou has a very slight, tangy fragrance and a hard, amber colored rind that I cut away before eating.

No respectful cheese platter would be complete without a Blue cheese.

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And my favourite is the Bleu des Causses among the blue cheese. As Loulou puts it :

Bleu des Causses and Roquefort share many similarities; both have the distinction of AOC status, both cheeses are produced in les Causses in the Aveyron and both are matured in limestone caves where cool, damp air swirls around carrying the mold spores that creates the cheese’s distinctive blue veining. The main difference between the two is that Bleu des Causses is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk whereas Roquefort is made from unpasteurized sheep’s milk. We tasted some nice ones in the wild and isolated department of the LanguedocRoussillon which encompasses rugged mountains, vast meadows, deep gorges and limestone caves. Its human population is the lowest in France, leaving plenty of wide open spaces for the cows and sheep to graze. It is home to several well known French cheeses such as Laguiole, Tomme de Lozère, Pélardon, and blue cheeses such as Bleu des Causses, Bleu d’Auvergne and Roquefort. Thank you Loulou, ChezLoulou for making such nice appreciation of the local French cheese.

Now, should I do the unthinkable ? and admit my weakness? Yes. I do include a piece of cheddar on my French cheese platter. Any good matured cheddar. And with walnuts, even better. Not to mention, the stiltons. The amazing White Stilton with Apricots and the Wensleydale with Cranberries. I do not know which one I prefer – the sweet, mild flavor and smooth texture of the Stilton over the tangier, crumblier Wensleydale with bits of Cranberries for the added tease, maybe I will go Shaun the Sheep way ! Some of the Cheese photos are courtesy to ChezLoulou

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Well, all things said, I might look forward to my cheese Macaroni tomorrow ! ….

Sacrilege !.

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