French Cheese Collection
Brie is the most popular of all the French cheeses. It has its origins in the region of Ile-de-France, not far from Paris, and can be traced back to the 5th century. Fifteen centuries later, people around the world are still discussing whether "to eat or not to eat" its edible white rind, and Brie is now made in the U.S. and in most of Europe. Brie should be eaten when it is "affine," or fully ripened, when its interior is soft and runny. A chalky texture is a sure sign that it was cut before its peak. As with most cheese, Brie should always be served at room temperature so its full texture and flavor is allowed to develop. Made of cow's milk and soft-ripened with a white (off-white) bloomy rind, the interior is soft and slightly runny with a mild glossy paste. The aroma should be reminiscent of fresh mushrooms and always pleasant.
Roquefort is perhaps the most famous of the blue-veined cheeses. To bear the name, Roquefort must be made of sheep's milk from a defined area and must be aged in particular caves in the south of France. In this distinctive cheese, unusually subtle hints of blue mold mingle with the piquant flavor of sheep's milk. More often than not, Roquefort tastes the saltiest of the blues. Though so soft that it melts on the tongue, Roquefort is dry enough to crumble more readily than it spreads. Dating back to the first century, Roquefort has long been considered the king of blue cheeses. Protected by its own Appellation d'Origine, Roquefort is a rich, intense blue cheese with a remarkably smooth texture. There is no other cheese like it in the world. It is made of sheep's milk, aged 60 days, has soft but crumbly, cream-colored curds laced with dark blue-green mold, and has a distinct sheep flavor. It is foil wrapped.
There are literally dozens of different goat cheeses produced in France and the United States today. The range of flavors and textures can vary as much as any of the cheeses made from cow's milk. Goat cheese is relatively low in fat, easily digested, and a wonderful source of calcium and protein. Chèvre can be covered in herbs such as thyme or rosemary, spices like black pepper or green peppercorns, a fine vegetable ash, or served au naturel. For good reason, it remains one of the fastest growing categories of cheese. Made of goat's milk, it is bright white, soft, slightly crumbly, mildly tangy and has a fresh, dairy fragrance.
Port Salut is a French monastery cheese originally made by Trappist monks in the mid 19th century, but is now factory-made and easily recognized by its bright orange rind, a gentle reminder of its past. A mild, semi-soft table cheese, Port Salut has become a favorite with children and people preferring a more mellow, less aggressive cheese. Made of cow's milk, it is a semi-soft table cheese and a mild cream-colored cheese with a bright orange, inedible rind.
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