The Cheeses of France Marketing Council: Composed of French dairy farmers and cheese firms, the Council is led by The French Dairy Inter-Branch Organization (CNIEL). The Council’s mission is to create awareness about the variety of the cheeses of France available on the US market and the multiple ways that American consumers can incorporate the cheeses into their diets, their recipes and their lifestyles.
My friends and I joke all the time that cheese and wine have a tendency to be our Kryptonite, meaning we become weak and powerless when enjoying! Last month I had the pleasure of meeting with the Cheese of Europe team where I learned all about cheese.
When you are learning about something while sampling it makes you feel a lot better about being gluttonous…I mean It’s all about the knowledge, right? So we started with cheeses from Savencia. Their Saint-Agur Blue cheese, Ile de France Camembert and Saint-Andre triple cream (the heavenly cheese) were delicious. They even had recipes to share that assisted in highlighting their cheeses.
I tend not to enjoy Blue Cheese because of its “in your face” flavor, but in learning about how cheese comes to be, I understood why I didn’t care for “American” blue cheese. The cows are treated differently in Europe than they are here in the states. Simply because there is an abundance of land (farm land) in Europe. Allowing cows to graze almost year round in the same areas.
The most intriguing part about the cheeses were the colors. The Cows are allowed to roam and graze freely in the summer months, which lead the cheese to be more of a lighter yellow. In the winter the cows are fed hay as they are in barns during the harsh, cold winters. This produces a more yellow cheese.
The Mimolette was by far my favorite cheese because of it’s bright orange color and dry texture. It pairs perfectly with red wines (in my opinion).
Mimolette is a cheese traditionally produced around the city of Lille, France. In France, it is also known as Boule de Lille after its city of origin, or vieux Hollande for being made after the tradition of Edam cheese. It was originally made by the request of Louis XIV, who – in the context of Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s mercantilistic policies – was looking for a native French product to replace the then very popular Edam. To make it distinct from Edam he seasoned it with annatto to give it a sweet and nutty flavor and a distinct orange color.
It normally weighs about 2 kg (approximately 4.5 pounds) and is made from cow’s milk. Its name comes from the French word molle, meaning “soft”. This refers to the softness of the crust when young – with age it becomes harder. The orange color comes from the natural seasoning, annatto, which has a sweet and nutty flavor.
The double churned Comté cheese was a favorite, and I am clearly not alone as Comte cheese has the highest production of all French AOC cheeses, around 40,000 tonnes annually. It’s as soft as silk and melts in your mouth. All I have to say is anything that take 160 gallons of water to make better be damn good!