French Cheeses: Part I

We took a class on French cheeses tonight. Wait, did you say cheese? COUNT ME IN. Did you say French cheese? EVEN BETTER.

A local business, Wine + Market, prides themselves on selling local products, good wines, and good cheeses. The cheese classes are relatively new for them, but apparently they are a great success. In tonight’s class, we learned about 6 different French cheeses.

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We learned lots of random facts like:

Although France has the most kinds of cheese, it is not the largest producer of cheese. The United States is the largest producer, followed by Germany, and then France. Many of the best cheeses of France are not available in the U.S. because of the guidelines about pasteurization. Even though France is not the largest producer, the cheese they produce is valued at a higher price. Additionally, the French cheese market is on the decline, but artisan cheeses in the U.S. is rapidly growing.

Here are the six types we tried and the most interesting fact(s) about each type…

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1. Comte – It is the #1 seller for France; they produce 40,000 tons per year. There is a strict rule that if you grate it, it is no longer called Comte.

2. Gruyere – This is a Swiss version of Comte. It has won the International Cheese Award 4 years in a row. In case you are curious, the International Cheese Awards are given in July in England. Vacation, anyone?

3. Morbier – don’t let this ruin your appetite because it was amazing, but this cheese includes a layer of ash and a mold that is also found on the human foot… That line you see in the middle of the cheese (third one from the top) is the ash that is placed between two layers of cheese curds.

4. Delice de Bourgogne – this is a triple cream cheese. What does that mean? It means that it has cream added to make the cheese 75% fat:solid ratio. Double cream cheeses are defined as 64-74% butter fat. This was by far my favorite cheese of the night.

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5. Brie de Meaux – surprisingly, this cheese is mostly industrial. And technically, it is the same thing as Camembert but made in a different location. Our instructor also called this the “Prince of Cheese.”

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6. Roquefort – This is the #2 seller for France. To be considered Roquefort the milk must come from only three species of sheep (out of over a thousand breeds) who are only fed grass from the region and the cheese must never leave that region during aging (which happens in a cave with breads). There are only 7 producers of Roquefort.

When in France over the summer, our favorite cheese, which was not featured in the class tonight, was Pont l’Eveque. I can’t wait to have that cheese again.


What a delicious evening! Looking forward to the Part II class in May!




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