Today our school offered an extra-curricular activity of a French cheese tasting. We had our own at home tasting shortly after arrival and weren’t impressed, so I thought now I might be more cultured.
The chef conducting the tasting forewarned us that we would go in the order of most mild to the strongest. The chef gave us tips on how to use the cheese in cooking.
We started with a taste of Bruccio, it is made of fresh sheep milk and it was very mild with a ricotta cheese texture. Our second taste test was Saint-nectaire, it smelled like sweaty sneakers. The taste was mild compared to the smell. The third cheese was Abondance and this was my favorite. It is made from cow’s milk, very mild with a slight spicy aftertaste. The forth cheese was Fourme d’Ambert, this cheese is full of green fuzz and smelled like a dirty hamster cage, the taste wasn’t bad. The fifth cheese was Brie de Meaux, I’ve never been a fan of brie (except when prepared in a puff pastry with raspberry jam, walnuts and dried cranberries). This brie was okay and I learned that some people buy brie noire (black brie) and it is brie that has aged 2 years and turned black.
The last 2 cheeses she had to keep tightly wrapped in many layers of plastic wrap prior to the tasting because she said the smell is too strong and we would need to open the windows. She opened the next cheese, Pélardon affine. This cheese has a grayish, green exterior and is made from goat’s milk. The smell was strong and the taste was also strong. I could eat it without complications, but I definitely didn’t need a second taste. The last cheese, the strongest we tried was Munster. This is NOT the munster that is normally on cheese party platters in the United States, oh no, this is definitely a totally different breed. This Munster smelled like a port-a-potty and had a similar taste.
I now know why some people ask “who cut the cheese?” with certain distinct odors, because he/she must have eaten French cheese, to know that distinct odor is similar to certain cheeses. So there you have it, in case you are wanting to throw a Party of France.