June 19, 2007

I've Waited For This Cheese

Several years ago we went out with Jean-Pierre and Agnès to a lovely little place near Béziers for dinner. After our main course a gorgeous and very heavily laden cheese cart was rolled over to our table and since we didn't know many cheeses at the time and chose most of them based on looks, I asked for a piece of a very interesting looking, bright orange, conical shaped one but was promptly told "non, madame, il est trop fort, choisissez un autre."*
I insisted that I liked strong cheese, but to no avail. I looked and Jean-Pierre and Agnès for help but they too shook their heads and said, "no, choose another."
So I did.
We were just getting to know Jean-Pierre and Agnès so I didn't want to cause a scene by fighting with the server and grabbing my own piece off the cart or anything.

But let me tell you, that vividly colored cheese and being denied the right to taste it left an impression. I've looked for that cheese ever since, not knowing it's name didn't help me much, but I figured I would recognize it when I came across it.
We ate dinner at their house last night and Jean-Pierre presented me with "the denied cheese." Recently the four of us had laughed about that dinner and that cheese and he went out and found some for me!

It is called Boulette d'Avesnes. With it we tasted a nice little Brillat Savarin.

Boulette d'Avesnes is smelly, pungent, fiery and very unique. It is made from Maroilles curd which is flavored with tarragon, cloves, parsley and pepper, then it's rind is washed in beer.  I found it acrid and pretty awful, actually. The little cones are shaped by hand then sprinkled with annatto or paprika, giving it the bright orange appearance.  This cheese is not for the faint of heart!
If you dare to taste it, pair with a full-bodied red such as Côte de Nuits, Côtes du Rhône or a Chateauneuf du Pape.

Brillat Savarin was named for the famous 18th Century French gourmand, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, in 1930 by it's creator, Henri Androuët, a well known Parisian cheese seller. It is a triple cream, 75% fat, over the top, cow's milk cheese from Normandy. It was lush, super creamy and sweet and was a perfect contrast to the robust little Boulette. Pair with a Saint Emilion.

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste, 1825

*No, ma'am, it is too strong, choose another. Pin It
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