by Lauren Mote
Where does an adoration of something delicious turn into a horrific obsession? Joe, owner at Les Amis du Fromage looked at me like I was a cooq when I mentioned that my cheese obsession has taken over my days off, my family and friends. I guess I am not the first person to be concerned. Alas, cheese is still much more enjoyable then sniffing battery acid. Much.
This story happily incorporates some of the people that I work with – some that are open to a little “expérimentation de fromage” or cheese
experimentation. This all started with the blabbing. I talk a big game – “cheese is coming, cheese is coming, cheese is here”. Now, for my workplace, cheese plates do not show up that often; and if they do, they house BC local product, and no raw milk items, which I think is a tragedy of North American food safety associations. However, “Les Amis” on 2nd at Burrard carry many many choices for “real” milk cheeses.
I started small – simple. I healthy wedge of Chateau de Bourgogne, a raw cow’s milk triple cream brie style cheese, a little riper then it’s sister, Délice de Bourgogne. I brought in the usual accompaniment – some higher quality cheese appropriate crackers – Leslie Stowe’s Rainforest Crisps, and let the kids go to town. The most exciting reactions were from those that love cheese, but are stuck in a rut with grocery store deli department selections. “Welcome to love” I gently praise. That evening, one cheese turned people into believers.
The following evening, I brought in some fruit, flatbreads and Époisses de Bourgogne. As a small seguey, I would like to make mention that French laws that govern cheese production are similar to the ones that govern wine production. This is a serious affair – the above mentioned cheese, Époisses, has it’s own Appelation d’Origine Controlée, or AOC as some know it (awarded in 1991). This means (loosely) that this cheese can only be made in the town of Époisses, Côte d’Or, Bourgogne, in a specific way, from specific ingredients to be called Époisses de Bourgogne AOC. Confused yet?
Époisses is a small, round, raw cow’s milk cheese. The rind is washed in “marc de bourgogne” – the region’s brandy, and then packed into a small wooden container, wrapped in plastic and poked with several small “air holes”, followed by a sturdy lid. “This cheese is the boss” my friend mentions. Époisses is leaky, potent, pungent and stank – totally amazing. With a couple of glasses of Columbia Crest Shiraz from Washington State, it was pretty amazing.
Other cheeses were purchased, but you’ll have to stay tuned for the next story instalment to find out all about them! In the mean time, get yourself to the “fromagerie” or visit www.buycheese.com