Today is the 21st annual Fête des fromages in Rocamadour, France. Fête des fromages means cheese festival and how can you not love a festival in honor of a lovely buttery cheese? There is an excellent write-up in English about the town of Rocamadour and their very special cheese if you are interested, the town is beautiful. I could not think of a better way to celebrate the day than to invite Jennifer of Chez Loulou to guest post about this very special food.
I have not met anyone who seems to love French cheese as much as Jennifer. She writes about them all the time in her own Fête du Formage posts which I drool over. In fact, I believe she may have tried all of the 246 cheeses that Charles De Gaulle spoke of in his famous quote:
“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” (Charles De Gaulle, in “Les Mots du General”, 1962)
But Jennifer forces on and even when she visits Paris (she lives in the South of France) she drags her friends around searching out new and exciting cheeses to try. I think I am in love with her! So without further ado…Chez Loulou!
Rocamadour and Chaource
My obsession with French cheese began about four years after we moved to France.
I’ve always been a fan of cheese, but didn’t really know much about the various types available in France other than those well known ones that I felt comfortable asking for at the cheese counter.
One day I found myself at a Fromagerie in Narbonne, completely frozen with indecision.
I stood there scanning the display, recognizing the big name cheeses; Cantal, Roquefort, Emmental, Brie, Camembert, and noticed that surrounding the VIP cheeses were were dozens of unfamiliar (to me) fromages in practically every shape and size. Some were soft, squishy and snowy white, some were creamy yellow and crumbly, some were round, some were square, some were wrinkly, a lot were moldy, and all were incredibly delicious looking.
There were simply too many to choose from! I had absolutely no idea what to buy.
Right then and there I decided that I was going to get to know French cheese. Every single one of them. My Fête du Fromage project was born.
So here I am, three years later and still happily obsessed. I’ve tasted over 170 French cheeses thus far and continue on my quest to taste them all.
The following is a list of five of my favorites that are easily found in North America.
Buttery and smoky tasting. A delicious bleu!
No wonder this one is a favorite here in France. Its distinctive nutty and caramelized flavor is so satisfying.
Brie de Nangis
Smooth and buttery and an absolutely delectable member of the brie family.
This little pyramide is sublime!
Brin d’Amour or Fleur de Maquis
Seductive and soft on the inside. Spicy and herby on the outside.
Yum! Thanks Jennifer. Also, if you have a Whole Foods or other gourmet grocery store around you can often find many of these cheeses there as well.
My favorites are Blue de Gex, Roquefort, and goat cheese of nearly every variety!
How about you? Do you have a favorite cheese – it doesn’t have to be French.
Vive le fromage!