A few days ago I suddenly felt this desperate need to buy a book on fromage. I really don’t know anything about cheese except that I know I love it. I love everything from creamy camembert to stinky roquefort and even processed American cheese. However, there’s so much more I want to know, like how and where it was made, unique characteristics, and different food pairings. Learning about something makes the experience of getting to know so much better and more memorable. So I paid a visit to La Librairie Gourmade, a fantastic cookbook shop in the 2nd arrondissement, and got Le Guide des Gourmets: Fromage. It looks like a great handbook, covering not only French varieties, but also those around Europe and other parts of the world. It has a brief introduction on the history of cheese along with a good discussion of how it is made and the different categories. The text is in French, so it will take while awhile to get through that part, but at least I’ll develop a strong fromage vocabulary! So, in conjunction with my new “studies” I’m starting a fromage series on JDP. Maybe it’ll inspire some of you to try something new or find interesting cheeses in your local area!
I’m starting with Coulommiers, which is a soft cheese and a close relative of brie and camembert. It originates from the town Coulommiers in Seine-et-Marne which is a district of the same province as Paris, Île-de-France. It is made with cow’s milk of 40% fat content and is usually pasteurized then matured for four months. It looks and smells very similar to a brie but has a heart center that is differs in taste and texture. The heart is a bit sharp with physical characteristics similar to that of feta cheese. Surrounding the heart is a creamy layer that tastes like a mild version of brie. The combination of the two characteristics provides a nice balance. The creamy layer alone was too bland for me, but the heart really saves it because of the strong acidic flavors.
Coulommiers seems like a good and safe substitute for brie or camembert. It has all the characteristics that we know and love about those cheese but the addition of the heart makes it distinguishable and project something a little different.
Cost: 3.85 euros for 250 grams/half wheel