7 Tips on Buying French Cheese

French cheese have grown quite popular these days. Some use it as an ingredient of a favorite dish, others put it in their favorite bread, while others still eat it as it is along with a glass of red wine. However, there are some people who just find it hard to choose that perfect round of Camembert or Brie; or know where to get it. Well, I am no expert but here are seven tips that might help you get that favorite French cheese you want to buy on your next trip to the market.

1. Know what’s in season

As I might have mentioned before, among the most important aspects of French cuisine is the ready availability of ingredients. It is the same with cheeses. Experts say that some cheeses are best during particular seasons. For instance, Camembert is best during spring while Beaufort is tastiest in autumn. Remember, dishes in French cuisine are often seasonal; the same thing goes for French cheeses.

2. Buy from specialist shops

As with most things, it is best to get them from the experts. More often than not, specialist cheese shops or fromageries get their cheeses only from the best cheese makers. They very rarely get their products from factories that mass produce cheese. In fact, most specialist cheese shops actually only buy from small farms that make one particular kind of gourmet cheese. This means that specialist cheese shops would most likely have the best, or near that level of quality, brands of each type of French cheese. However, there is a downside to this. Most products from specialist shops are more expensive than those sold in supermarkets. So you have to decide which one’s more important to you, quality or affordability.

Basil – an Indispensable Herb of French Cuisine

In many cultures, basil is treated as a sacred herb. In India, it is an object of veneration, which is planted in temples and monastery gardens. It is believed to have a power to cure diseases and kill both mosquitoes and demons thriving in the open air. In ancient Persia and Greece, basil was associated with the world of spirits, and therefore, was often planted on graves. In ancient Rome, the herb was considered a sexual stimulant eaten by lovers to promote the “fire of love” and boost fertility…Today, basil is an important plant of Mediterranean cuisine, and especially it is praised in both French and Italian cooking. The French call basil the “royal plant” – “l’hebre royale”, and there is a good reason for that. In accordance with research, the scent of basil has a salutary effect on people’s disposition and outlook. Brewed into a tea, basil is great for the gastrointestinal tract as it can relieve gas and even combat dysentery. Just like mint, the basil’s closest relative, it is easy to cultivate in a garden or in a pot at home. And, of course, it has a pleasant and unique taste, which makes it an indispensable ingredient for the preparation of many dishes. Especially beautifully does basil go with tomato, fish, and meat dishes.

In French cuisine, basil is one of the most important herbs. Very often, the French put torn basil leaves in salads of sliced tomatoes, lightly seasoned with Celtic sea salt (very healthy unrefined sea salt harvested in France), freshly ground black pepper, and virgin olive oil, and accompanied by crusty baguette. Perhaps the most famous basil dish is pesto – and the French have their own version of pesto, called “pistou”, which is made from garlic, cheese, and pine nut. Pistou can be used as a marinade or a condiment, and it is able to turn humble spaghetti into a true feast! To prepare authentic French spaghetti with pesto, first make pesto by combining together (better with a help of a mortar and a peste, but a food processor will go, too) a bunch of basil, 4 cloves of garlic, a handful of pine nuts, 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and a pinch of Celtic sea salt. Toss hot spaghetti with the pesto and enjoy with a glass of light dry Chardonnay. Bon appetite! :)