Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cheese Boxes

On a trip to the supermarket the other day, Ken and I decided to pick up a couple of cheeses. From the refrigerated case. We don't have a cheese shop in Saint-Aignan, but there is a cheese vendor at our Saturday market.

A Camembert from Normandy, made with raw milk.

The cheese vendor's prices are on the high side, but they have some very good stuff. One cheese we often get at the market is Parmesan. It's pricey, but it's the real stuff from Parma and is not often available in the grocery store.

But, if you know what to look for, you can also find some very good stuff in the supermarket for less. Like these two cheeses from Normandy. Camembert is ubiquitous in France, but you need to open up the box and lightly press the cheese (it's wrapped in paper) to gauge its ripeness. The same goes for Pont l'Evêque.

An A.O.C. Pont l'Evêque. Demi means half; this cheese is normally square.

Of course, at the market, the vendor will select a cheese for you if you tell her what ripeness you like, and normally you will see the cheese without a wrapper, but you usually can't touch it. Seeing it is often enough to judge ripeness when you've been buying cheese for a while.

These two were, and are still, delicious! Each comes in a little wooden box held together with staples. I thought the labels were nice so I scanned them for you. Too bad I can't scan the cheese itself so you can have a taste...

13 comments:

  1. We had some warm Camembert on friday it was delicious!!

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  2. Thanks for scanning the cheese labels for us- going to a regular grocery store in France is a treat for me. You'd think I was in an art museum at times, the way I get a kick out of looking at the labels.

    You made me hungry for some good cheese. Luckily I'm going to visit Cathy, my daughter in B'ham today and she lives near a gourmet market. I'll look for some good cheese there although the cheese will be overpriced and not very fresh.

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  3. Walt

    Do you keep your cheese in the fridge as we do in NA?

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  4. my 2 favorite cheeses too.....wish i could get em here.....i always go to grocery stores/markets when i travel.....first on my to do list in a new place....i could spend hours in Paris food stores

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  5. There are people who collect those labels, you know, and those colourful tissue wrappers that citrus fruit used to come in.

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  6. When I was in Normandy a year ago last August, I stopped in a supermarket a couple of times, what a difference from my neighborhood Kroger Store! I had lunch in Isigny Ste. Mere in the shadow of the cheese factories. Wonderful memories.

    DG

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  7. The Beaver, I like to keep cheese out on the counter, not in the fridge, especially in this season when the kitchen isn't too warm. But Walt likes to put it in the fridge. We compromise on that, leaving it out for a few days until it starts to get pretty ripe and then putting it in cold storage.

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  8. Good comments, all! And I believe the fridge or not question was answered. It also depends on the kind of cheese...

    autolycus, I'm not among the collectors. Thankfully. I've already got too much stuff.

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  9. I love cheese - my favorite has always been brie. But I knew nothing of ripeness until Martha gave a lesson on it a few years back.

    Before that, on my first trip to France in my teen years, I was excited to buy a point of brie at a street market in Paris. What I didn't know!

    That particular brie was beyond ripe. Directly after purchasing I went to the Rodin museum, where I handed my bags over to be hung while I toured.

    When I descended the stairs to leave, the whole downstairs stank. Not nice. I thought, "how weird - I didn't notice that smell when I came in."

    I collected my packages to leave, but the smell clung to me as I walked. I guess it took about 20 minutes for me to figure out.

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  10. Swoon... I just love cheese. A good camembert will win me over every time.

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  11. Syd, that's a great story about the smelly cheese :))

    Walt, I just love these cheese containers, too! Before living in France, I didn't really care much for cheese... I'm amazed that I ever felt that way! However... now I find that when I go to France, I eat lots of cheese during the length of my stay (which I couldn't afford to do when I was an au pair), but the raw-milk cheeses apparently wreak havoc with my system. The last two times I visited France, I was there for about 2 weeks... and I got deathly ill after a week or so. I had horrible stomach cramping and fever. In trying to pin down the reason, I've figured out that the only thing I'm eating differently from what I did when I lived there, is the amount of raw-milk cheese. :(( I think that means that I have to AVOID cheese when in France!! How horrible!

    Does this happen to anyone else?

    Judy

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  12. syd, that's pretty funny, in retrospect, of course. :)

    muzbot, does any french cheese get imported where you are? I'm sure there must also be some local Aussies who make farm cheeses, no?

    kyh, yup!

    judy, I've had similar problems when traveling. I chalk it up to a combination of jet lag (lower body resistance) and foreign microbes. It takes a few months for your body to adjust to both. I bet if you lived here you would be fine with the raw milk cheeses after a while.

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