Wednesday, December 21, 2005

French Cheese Tasting

the french cheese trioMy step-mom, Elaine, received an incredible gift from her boss this year: a trio of imported French cheeses and crackers. And so last night, Matthew and I visited my folks for a French cheese tasting. As soon as we saw the cheeses we knew they were special. Each cheese had its own distinct packaging and one could tell that the French really take their fromage seriously. And, I'm happy to report, that last night was a night of indulgence. We accompanied our cheeses with warm sourdough bread and a bottle of 2001 Tamas Estates Cabernet Sauvignon.
2001 Tamas Cabernet Sauvignon

First, we tasted a Brillat-Savarin Affiné. This is decadent triple cream cheese and should only be eaten with your loved ones or your friends! It is one of the richest cheeses you will ever taste, so a full pound of it will easily serve 12 people. The cheese if soft and buttery and it has the consistency of cream cheese. Brillat-Savarin is native to Normandy; however this cheese came by way of Bourgogne or Burgundy. The cheese is perfect for dessert and should be served with ripe, fresh fruit and crusty, French or sourdough bread. I don't even want to know how much fat is in this cheese but it was out of this world!

Super creamy Brillat-Savarin

Next, we had Pitxun Sheep Cheese. This is an artisanal cheese with a natural crust by way of the French Basque Country. Pitxun is made from raw sheep milk and is handcrafted by the sheepherders. Pitxun has a natural rind which has been rolled in ashes. The rind is quite tough and you will need a sharp knife to cut through it. The cheese tastes the way a cheese should taste: It is firm and has a slightly flaky consistency. Pitxun is quite nutty and a little salty, making it a perfect mate to sweets and to Basque wines. You can also grate it over light flavored pastas. This was probably my favorite cheese and it tasted great on a piece of crusty bread.

Pitxun and Chevre du Poitou

Finally, we had Chèvre Du Poitou, which is a soft, ripened cheese from the famous goat-breeding region of Poitou. The flavor is more profound and sharp. It's a Camembert-style cheese and this goat’s milk version has a silky, creamy texture, and a smooth goaty flavor. This cheese would go best with a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

All in all, we had a great time tasting the cheeses. I can't wait to see what my step-mom gets for Christmas next year!!!

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