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.
Roquefort is a delectable ewe’s-milk blue cheese from the South of France, and is one of the most famous of all French cheeses. In accordance with the European law, only those cheeses aged in the natural Cambalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon have a right to be named “Roquefort”, this is why when you buy this cheese you can be absolutely sure in its authenticity and the highest quality.
Legend states that Roquefort was first discovered by a young shepherd, who left a piece of fresh ewes’ milk cheese in a cave. When he returned a few months later, the cave mold had transformed his plain cheese into wonderful Roquefort. True or not, but in France, Roquefort was honoured with a royal patent already in the thirteenth century. In the medieval times, this pungent blue cheese was believed to have aphrodisiac qualities, the fact which even was noted by the world’s famous lover – Casanova.
Roquefort is always made from fresh, unpasteurized milk of the Lacaune breed of sheep and has a white, crumbly and slightly moist texture with veins of blue mold (Penicillium roqueforti). Roquefort has no rind. An average head of this cheese is about 5 pounds, which requires 4-5 times the amount of fresh milk (about 13 litres!) in order to produce one head. After 4 to 9 months of aging, all vitamins and enzymes of the milk remain intact in Roquefort – it is very high in fat, protein, fat-soluble vitamins, and minerals, especially calcium. Its odour is strong and has a notable hint of butyric acid, the taste is rich and smooth with a sharp, astringent tang. The overall flavour sensation begins slightly mild, then turns into sweet and smoky, and fades to a prominent salty finish. The cheese fully exhibits its rich flavour if combined with red wine from Burgundy.
More information about Roquefort in English can be found at:
French Cheese Guide
Recipes with Roquefort