au revoir les fromages

by jemma margaret

Two nights ago my mother said, remember next time that the cheese place has a limited sheep’s milk selection. To which I replied with grave solemnity that, I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, there might not be a next time. By which I meant, our ample supply of cheese would probably last until Tuesday–our last day in Paris.

Oh, but it was a grand way to go.

I do not pretend to be a sage of cheese courses, but I will go out on a limb to recommend a general rule of thumb would be to represent as many animals and textures as possible. With that in mind, three cheeses can fit the bill quite nicely.

Food shopping with my mother is a breeze unless she says, you choose, because I know she knows better.

Not so long ago we had been waxing poetically of the wedding cheese–that is, the cheese that stole all our hearts at my cousin’s wedding last September. Fittingly, the cheese is called la tentation, and it is probably because it was so aptly named that I remembered all these months later.

Lo! Amongst the other soft cow’s milk there it sat quivering to break free of its feeble wooden crate and when we asked madame (one of the co-owners) for it she inquired whether we wanted it more firm or more creamy.

I do not think I need to answer that question for you, dear reader. Then she gently poked the top of each cheese twice and chose the creamiest of all. La tentation is made by the same geniuses who make St Nectaire, but it is twice as much cream. Goodness gracious.

Next, a brebis. Since our most recent soft sheep’s milk had looked unctuous on the outside but been instead amonious on the inside, whereas our most recent aged sheep had made us all wish to go immediately to its hometown of Corsica (as if Napoleon was not enough). Because of all that we decided on an aged (but not the oldest, which my mother knew was commonly available back in the states) sheep from the Pyrenees. Bringing it home, the scent was suspiciously pungent, which prompted my mother’s opening comment. However, the worries were ill founded as this cheese was absolutely pleasant.

Finally, a goat. There were many chevres to choose from of all sorts of shapes and vintages. We ended up with a plateau of sorts, displayed in an out of doors glass case which rose up with the press of a button. Like my favorite goat cheeses, this one boasted two tints, a bright white in the centre and around the edges a beiger (apparently not a word) tone. The consistency lay between firm and creamy. Something equally at home crumbled in a salad or spread on a tartine.

All of them raw and full of things guaranteed to satisfy each step in the digestive system. With a fig filled fruit bowl…heaven can wait.