June 12, 2007
This week I finally tasted a cheese that I've wanted to try for years, Banon à la Feuille. I've read and heard so much about this little cheese that I had very high expectations. Suffice to say, it was out of this world!
We also tasted a wonderful Tomme de Chèvre and a lovely, rich Maroilles.
Banon has to be one of the most alluring, heady and luscious things I've ever tasted.
It is a raw goat's milk cheese that is wrapped in chestnut leaves, dipped in marc de Provence or eau de vie, tied up with raffia and left to mature for a few weeks. It can be eaten young, while the leaves are still green and the cheese is crumbly and tart or aged, like the one I bought, which was ultra ripe and runny and the leaves had turned brown, causing the crust to darken a bit. The flavor was winey, fruity, woodsy and amazing! Banon has been produced in Provence near the village of Banon since the Roman times and it was granted AOC status in 2003.
Good wine pairing would be a Chenin Blanc or a big red from Bordeaux.
Banon oozing all over the place
The Tomme de Chèvre was made locally, about an hour away in the Pyrénées mountains. It is made from either pasteurized or unpasteurized goat's milk and the flavor was rich and nutty with a firm but creamy texture. Compared to the other two, the Tomme didn't really stand out, but it is a delicious cheese.
A good wine pairing would be a Minervois or a Saumur.
A trip to Les Halles in Narbonne yielded a nice chunk of Maroilles, a cheese from the north of France that our friends Jean-Pierre and Agnès said we must try. It gained AOC status in 1976 and was first produced by monks in the Abbey of Maroilles over 1000 years ago.
I bought the unpasteurized cow's milk Maroilles, but it is also made from pasteurized milk. The rind is bright orange color, the taste is slightly salty and tangy and the odor really makes an impression. You should have smelled our fridge!
Châteauneuf du Pape is the recommended wine to drink with Maroilles.