June 12, 2007

Tuesday's Tastings

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.

before unwrapping

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.

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mpabner said...

Your cheese tastings leave me green with envy! Tampa has no great cheese monger. We have a couple of really good Italian/Cuban food stores. They have a good selection of cheeses. However, they do not stock too many "exotic" cheeses. I will have to wait till I travel to France again. Maybe the theme will be a cheese tour.

Katie Zeller said...

OMG! That Banon looks fantastic! I had no idea...now I do. That goes on my next cheese board.

wcs said...

I had never heard of Banon before - thanks for the intro !

Jennifer said...

I think you can order cheese in the States and have it delivered, but the prices are probably astronomical!

yep, it was incredible. Let me know what you think if you buy some and make sure to eat it last as it will most likely be the strongest on the board

you're very welcome!

The Late Bloomer said...

Wow, you really know your cheese! I hadn't heard of Banon before either, but now you've got me curious...

Unknown said...

Hmmm...something to try next time I get over there.

I know what you mean about the refrigerator. I was afraid I would never get the Pont L'Evecque odor out of the fridge in our rental flat...

Donna said...

I imagine you have lots of random bits of cheese around the house, especially since starting the Tuesday tastings. I ran across an interesting use for leftover cheese bits in a Food and Wine article about Jaques Pepin. I have been wanting to try it- have you ever had Fromage Fort?


Jennifer said...

We've started opening the fridge only when absolutely necessary. it is like a giant bacterial process these days!

I've heard of fromage fort, but never made it. Thank you, this is a perfect idea! I need recipes to use up all these little bits of cheese and we're getting tired of pizza quattro formaggi!

Brunofrance said...

I am not getting tired of the 4 cheese pizza. You make the absolute best pizza in the south of France.

Riana Lagarde said...

i *heart* banon, i tried to ship some to my sister, but it got way layed somewhere and was black when it got to her! LOL

when we go to metro next time we will have to bring fur coats and linger in the cheese aisle for awhile ;)

Jennifer said...

late bloomer
you'll have to try it and let me know what you think! I was describing it to someone yesterday who really loves cheese and he became very interested and wanted to get to the closest cheese shop as soon as possible to pick some up!

Yes, we'll need serious coats for that room, it is freezing in there!
I can't believe the post office people didn't confiscate your sister's cheese

Anonymous said...

Just look at that melting Banon! I think it's one of the few "official" provence cheeses (i.e. routinely included on lists). I've never had it, but I'm a great supporter of Maroilles.

Graham said...

Had a superb Banon at friends in the village the other week. It came from Intermarche Clermont l'Herault of all places which has an independently run cheese counter. Bought some a few days later that was just as good, although at €4,10 not an everyday treat.

Jennifer said...

You must try it! It is very special.

I need to pick up a piece. haven't had any in at least a year and it is such an amazing cheese. I usually buy it at les Halles in Narbonne.