Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fromage de France

Some of the regular readers of this blog might have wondered why it has been so silent recently. Well, I was with my family in France. My wife had persuaded me to take a vacation abroad, cheese being the draw. And of course, I couldn't resist. France is still a heaven of cheese and plenty of other delicious food.
We spent the first week with friends in Ain, the foot hills of the Alps. A perfect place from which to make trips into the Haute Savoie in search of cheese. My friend, who grew up here but also lives in Brooklyn, was so kind to make phone calls. She made contact with several local cheese makers. We visited a Reblochon maker and I spent a morning in the mountains watching the making of Tomme Des Bauges. I will write about this in the next few weeks.
After a week we drove north to Burgundy. Here we stayed for three days on a farm in Epoisses. We visited the only producer of raw milk Epoisses in Origny-sur-Seine, some 50 km north east of Epoisses. They make an excellent cheese, but more later.

The cheeses in the pictures came from the cheese shop of Pierre Gay in Annecy. I had heard of this shop in New York as being a good source for cheese and makers. The owner is very nice and he did give me some leads towards cheesemakers in the area. I will give a brief description of the cheeses. 
On top, we find a Saint Felicien in the ramekin, a lactic cow. This one was mild and buttery. The large pink wedge is a Vacherin des Bauges, a bit of a disappointment. Too dry for a vacherin, perhaps not the time of year and according to my friends' father not the right area for good vacherin. Next to that, a trusty Comte, sweet and nutty, flanked by a petit Bornard Chevre and a Seez de Tarentaise. Both nice goat cheeses, the taller tarentaise a harder dryer one, the smaller Bornard soft and lemony. Under this a Romans Fermier, a lactic coagulated raw milk cow cheese. This cheese is made similar as the Saint Felicien but is ripened on rye straw, hence the blue mold on the rind. To the left a Crotin Chavignol, a little dry goat cheese, which to my pleasant surprise was very similar to the cheeses in this post. Moving left we find a Saint Nectaire, soft and earthy, honest without bravoure. And last, a fantastic piece of Blue du Haut Jura, also known as Blue de Gex. According to my friend a real find.


Damon said...

Glad to see you are back! I kept checking your blog and wondered what you were up to. Glad that you had a nice vacation!

Thomas said...

You truly are living my dream.

MansTouch said...

There are so many great places to see in France like Notre Dame and Eiffel Tower. Just to walk around is already an experience. Sipping a cup of coffee while cruising the Seine is one of the few things you can do to savor your trip. Of course no one should ever miss to visit the art galleries of world renowned painters.
The Truth About Paris

Bob Rossi said...

You had the great good fortune to go to one of the best cheese shops I've ever been to -- Pierre Gay in Annecy. I stumbled across this blog while looking for more info about the shop, as their web site appears to be gone. And oh how I miss their cheese!