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Adventures in cheese

This is my definition of cheese:

Given that decent Cheddar exists, I cannot get over the French obsession for slathering Emmental over everything. It isn't French, it is horrid, it has zero melty properties, it is cheap, it's like attempting to enjoy polystyrene shavings. Every French person who makes a recipe with Emmental as the cheese of choice should be ceremoniously stripped of their nationality and sent to live in... Belgium.

I am going to try several cheeses. Hard cheeses, mind you. I cannot bring myself to consider a squishy rancid yoghurt encased in mould to be a type of "food".

So with no further ado, and in the order taken from the bag...


Fol Epi

This cheese sounds like it should come from the mountains. Actually, it is from the Pays de la Loire - maybe 50-odd miles south of here. It claims to have a tender texture and a fruity taste.
The first thing you notice when opening the pack is a nut smell. Upon eating, the taste is sharp but not unpleasant. I don't get the fruity, it still tastes like walnut to me. There is the tickle in the back of the throat that you get with a good solid cheese, which is rather bizarre given the sumptuous velvety texture. This might not be a cheese to put into a baked potato (not tested meltyness), but it is a good cheese to roll up and enjoy on a summer's day.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll just have another slice before moving on...


Lou Pérac - La Tomme de Brebis

A "delicate and tender" cheese from the Aveyron made with sheep's milk, and a ridiculously long URL on the back of the pack - - "dites oui aux fromages de brebis", or "say yes to sheep's cheese".
It doesn't really smell of much, so..
The texture is strange - this cheese is almost (but not quite) spreadable. I wonder if it would melt well? The taste is off the scale - much stronger than the Epi, bordering on the strength of Cheddar, while being incredibly smooth. I'm not sure I'd call this "delicate".
As a cheese on its own or in a sandwich, I'm not sure. If it melts well, it would be a very nice cheese in a baked potato.



Next out of the bag is Comté. Ages for six months, this is perhaps the closest France has to Cheddar. It is an AOC cheese, which means it is the real deal. In the heart of Jura (that's over on the far right sort of near Switzerland I think) the cheese is produced and then aged in caves in a place called "Le Montarlier".
This cheese is hard. I cut the others with a plastic fork. This one broke the fork. ☺
As for taste, it is sharp. You can tell from the texture and how it feels on the top of your mouth that this has been aged. It is slightly tangy, almost acidic. It is like a mid-range Cheddar so for ex-pats who can't find the real thing, why not try Comté?



Leerdammer is an unexciting cheese that is perhaps best described as "Emmental produced by people who still give a damn".
Thick, chewy, solid, nutty... and with holes. This is everything Emmental should aspire to be. Basically, if your recipe calls for Emmental and you don't want to be laughed out of existence, use Leerdammer instead. It, you know, tastes like cheese.
Recall I said it was unexciting? Well, on the back it has nutritional information and ingredients, and some basic blurb in French and Dutch. This is the first cheese I've tried that hasn't had a paragraph extolling the virtues of the product and where it came from. Which is a shame as this in between two slices of bread and a slice of roast chicken - you'd have a decent sandwich.



Since 1952!
# Ataaaack of the killer tomaaaaaatoes!
No, seriously. This is "that one in the funny wax case". Well, give it credit for being novel.
Peel it open, you end up with a slightly salty gummy conconction. I'm, frankly, not sure what I'm supposed to do with this. You can buy mini-Babybel which is about an inch across and with that you just open it up and eat it. As for this huge one, I've had maybe a fifth of it while writing this. It is quite moreish. As a taste, it is like a salty thick cream.
And thanks to its shape and the waxy outside, you can even go for predictably dumb "Pac-Man" gags...



The value of a cheese (or anything, for that matter) lies in what you can do with it. Cheddar, for example, is right at home in a Ploughman's, in a sandwich, on toast, or on a spud.
So the test I shall be doing next is to see how these cheeses behave on a microwave "baked" potato... watch this space!


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Rob, 6th February 2014, 22:36
What do you think of Jarlsberg ? That's our current favourite (after the strong chedders, of course.)

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