Week 2 of France journeys = cheese every day, a new kind every other dinner, and people who know more about cheese than me. What’s more is that all these French people are down to try extra-france varietals aka fresh mozzarella from Naples? Flown in this morning from the Italian neighbor? Yeah c’est la vie. If sunshine was a liquid and that liquid was pressed into a cheese, it would be mozzarella bocconcini from Naples.
This afternoon for our Sunday meal (called the dominical), ma mère bought some Etorki cheese because I said I had been hankering after some “fromage de brébis” aka sheep’s milk cheese. The Etorki comes from the Basque region and dats why it has that unique -ki ending. I’m more used to eating hard(er) sheep’s milk cheese like pecorino or ossau-iraty (also from the Basque country), but this Etorki was medium-soft. Buttery, sharp, and round-tasting, and with that signature sheepy-acidity. Wikipedia says that you can substitute Etorki for cheddar or gouda and I like kind of agree. Probs my preferred method of consuming would be little cubes and little toothpicks because with big hunks of Etorki the sharpness dominates the creamy sweet parts. If you’ve ever eaten cougar gold you would understand the kind of whitey sharpy that can overwhelm but is niiiiice in leetle portions. Also alternating Etorki with leetle gulps of cab sauvignon is rill tasty.
Two other notable cheese thus far: galletout and saint-nectaire. I’ve already written about saint-nectaire (see thanks to french club post) and it was just as delicious this time. The galletout, on the otherhand, was one stallion that I haven’t gotten the feel for yet. Its a creamy, soft, drippy chèvre with a rind like the cortex – gyri and sulci all up in that. I saw that it was oozing so I was all about that and spread some on a baguette moulée (yeah now I know different names for baguettes). It was way sharply acidic and I could barely test any tell-tale chèvre tastes. Maybe I my taste buds were just assaulted and stopped functioning, I dunno. I’ll have to try again with more courage next time. I don’t know what you would eat for fun with galletout, but there has to be something to pair with it. Maybe really ripe canteloupe? Next time I hit up the fromagerie caves I’ll be sure to ask about this renegade chèvre.
Being in France has shown me that it isn’t really the French people that have fundamentally different opinions about cheese, it’s just that artisan cheese has been a real thing here for hundreds and hundreds of years (instead of like 30 in the US) and so people in France grow up with constant exposure to every AOC protected variety. The relative absence of supermarkets (although they certainly do exist) and the presence of small, niche sourcers is probably the biggest influence on the continued success of cheese in france. I see the growth of artisan cheese in the US, but the shopping habits of americans makes it hard to gain access to small-batch producers unless you shop at whole foods or your neighbor happens to run a dairy farm. It’s only in the last 30 years that americans have started to realize that the US has the resources to produce more than cheddar. Seeing different varieties in supermarkets gives me hope, because even Président brie is better than no brie.