Sunday, 6 July 2008

Blessed are the cheesemakers ...

One of the joys of living in the centre of Ferney is being a few moments walk away from the Fromagerie Michelin shop just off the main street. The role of cheese in French life and cuisine is difficult to understand until you've lived in the country for a while. Even the simplest of family meals will normally involve a cheese course served before desert.
Michelin is both a fromager and more importantly an affineur of cheese. They make a wonderful Jura cheese which comes in its own small wooden box, and is soft and runny - best served with a spoon. It's also fabulous baked in the oven and spooned over potatoes, much easier than fondue.
But Michelin also ripen and store cheeses, specialising in cheese from small producers. They stock a bleu de Termignon from the end of summer until late spring - this amazing cheese from the alpine meadows of the neighbouring département has only four people still making it and goes naturally blue as a result of the special herbs and flowers the small herds of cows feed off. They also stock cheese from the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, and even Stilton, Shropshire blue and cheddar from Britain. The local yoghurts, cream, eggs and goats cheese are delicious as well. The smell when you go into the shop is a bit of an assault on the senses but it's fun to take time making up your mind about which ones you want try - even if the bill is a bit of an assault on the bank balance.
And for those of you looking for the quote from Monty Python's Life of Brian here it is. There seems even to be a novel with the quote as its title.