There are over four hundred types of cheese produced in France and each region has its own very special and unique sorts of cows, ewes and goats cheeses which have delighted lovers of cheese for decades.
I adore French cheeses and for years have tasted as many varieties as I have been able to. There are eight basic families of cheeses in France and these are referred to as ‘les huits familles de fromage’. Of course there are the very famous ones like Roquefort, Brie, Camembert and Bleu d’Auvergne but with such a vast selection available, it would be possible to have a different type of cheese for every day of the year and then some more.
I certainly have my favourites and admit that I do love goats cheese, especially the variety of cheeses I tasted in Corsica. However, the mountains of the Pyrénées also produces some amazing types of goats cheese. I love this cheese in salads or even in sauces that I prepare for other dishes including some seafood ones. There is nothing similar to the salty, strong flavour of goats cheese and I particularly like the small balls which are made and then rolled in different herbs and spices such as paprika.
The cheeses produced in northern France are amazing too. Le Fromage St. Paulin is another cheese that I love to put on a cheeseboard. It is a wonderfully creamy, full flavoured cheese which is made out of cow’s milk and I adore it on hot crusty French bread and lots of good quality unsalted butter. I also really like Pont L’Eveque which is another semi soft cheese from northern France. Normandy cheeses are superb and this one gets pride of place on my cheeseboard right next to Brillat Savarin another lovely rich cheese from this region.
If you like rich creamy cheeses then you will love Le Fromage Epoisses. It does have quite a strong pungent odour but this hand crafted treasure is rinsed in a liqueur after it has been cured for 4 weeks in humid cellars. Le Delice du Jura is a firm favourite in my home and all my family adore this lovely nutty tasting French cheese and when I do find it, I always buy two of three because it is quite hard to find outside of France.
We all love and know about Brie and Camembert and I love to buy this type of cheese a few days before I intend eating it so that it is nice and runny, which means all the flavours are at their best. I never put cheeses in the fridge because it dulls their flavours. Instead I leave them under a cheese cloche in my cool larder so they really keep at their best. But having said this French cheeses in my home never last that long because we all love a snack during the day and our first choice is usually some cheese either on crackers or crusty bread with cornichons, which are small slightly sweet gherkins.