Is cheese your kryptonite too? Looking to upgrade your cheeseboard game?

One of my favorite childhood story was Enid Byton’s “What No cheese”, which is about a little yellow bird obsessed with cheese. I sure ain’t the only little yellow bird around, as seen from the enthusiastic reception of @homeofcheese_sg’s Instagram livestream yesterday, where cheese expert François Robin, all the way from his kitchen in France, shared about pairing French cheese with simple ingredients we can find anywhere in Singapore.

The French pairs cheeses with French ingredients that may be hard to find in Singapore so it’s a simple and brilliant idea to use ingredients that locals can easily find at home. Incorporating familiar flavours into the traditional cheese board will allow cheese beginners, and cheese lovers, to appreciate new tastes and textures.

François Robin, 2011 winner of Meilleur Ouvriers de France in the class of cheese mongers

Based on the unique qualities of each French cheese, François suggested familiar local ingredients: the sweet and coconuty kaya; coriander, an ingredient as polarising as blue cheese itself; and a handful of spring onions, dried tropical fruits and mixed nuts to complement the flavours of each cheese.

It’s amazing how such simple ingredients and unexpected pairings elevate the pleasure of enjoying cheese. Try it for yourself.

Not to worry if you missed the livestream, for you can still watch the recording on @homeofcheese_sg’s Instagram account. It’s 1.5 hours long and experienced technical glitches at some parts. BUT, fret not, for we have gathered François’ cheese pairing tips for you here at Alvinology.com.

PAIRING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 6 TYPES OF FRENCH CHEESE

  1. Camembert: Pair this traditional favorite with coriander and let your palette be surprised.
  2. Emmental: A mild and nutty tasting cheese, cut into cubes and it’s perfect for eating with mixed nuts
  3. Époisses: a soft cheese with an incredible smell, simply dip dried mango slices into the runny melty cheese!
  4. Mimolette: An earthy cheese which somehow tastes chocolatey after chewing, this cheese goes well with dried pineapple which rounds off its saltiness. Kaya is good too.
  5. Triple Crème: a melty cheese which caresses your palette, sprinkle some chopped spring onions over it and enjoy how the flavours just bloom in your mouth.
  6. Bleu d’Auvergne (Blue Cheese): Cool down the saltiness of this strong pungent cheese with something sweet- kaya! We used brown kaya, and the soft sweetness of the kaya acted as a perfect counterpoint to the piquant blue cheese. You could experiment with green kaya too

Cheesy tip: To avoid the cheese becoming sweaty in Singapore’s hot tropical climate, only take out the cheese 20-30 minutes from the fridge before eating. Enjoy!

How to enjoy cheese? Anytime, Anywhere and Anyhow! As François said, “The best way to enjoy French cheese is not to be formal… eat French cheese the way you want!”. Have fun experimenting with different flavor and texture combinations. There’s no right and wrong!

Now that you have inspiration for your next cheeseboard, fancy some wine to go along?

CHEES’OLOGY- KNOW YOUR CHEESES

Mind-boggled by all the different cheese? Here’s the 101 on the 6 types of cheese featured:

Camembert

Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • Type: Bloomy Rind Cheese
  • Region: Normandy
  • Description: Legend has it that during the French Revolution, in the small village of Camembert, Marie Harel perfected what was to become France’s most famous cheese. Camembert is made with partially skimmed raw cow’s milk. It is a soft cheese with a bloomy rind, sometimes with tinges of red. Camembert is moulded with a ladle in five successive stages, each 40 minutes apart. When fully ripe, it has a powerful scent of milk and undergrowth.
  • Characteristics:
    • Appearance: A thin, downy rind with streaks and dents. When the cheese has aged for a long time, an orangey red colour may develop. The body of the cheese is a shiny, creamy yellow under the rind. The centre can be white and chalky if the cheese is not fully ripe. The body has small holes which are formed during fermentation.
    • Texture: Very supple, creamy under the rind and firmer in the centre.
    • Aroma: When young, the rind smells of button mushrooms and undergrowth. Over time, the smell becomes stronger and more countrified, reminiscent of a stable. The body has a definite raw milk scent.
    • Flavour: The cheese is slightly salty. The flavour of raw milk is followed by animal notes and a taste of undergrowth which lasts in the mouth and gives off warmth.

French Emmental

Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • Type: Cooked Pressed Cheese
  • Region: Vosges, Franche-ComtĂ© and Savoy (mountain areas)
  • Description: This is the largest cheese of them all: a wheel can easily weigh more than 220 lbs.!
  • Another characteristic trait is the presence of “eyes”, or holes, in the cheese.
  • Production Method: Emmental is the result of fermentation in a relatively warm cellar (68° to 77° F). Gas forms within the paste, making the wheel swell and the heel round. 60% of French Emmental is sold grated, and 50% of the Emmental sold in block form ends up grated by the consumer. Emmental can also be produced in a square slab and matured under a protective film, which keeps the rind from forming.
  • Characteristics
    • Appearance: It has a dry, smooth, straw yellow surface.
    • Texture: It has a mild taste and a firm yet springy, soft texture.
    • Aroma: Its aroma is slightly sharp and fruity.
    • Flavour: The flavor of this cheese is tangy and not very salty

Époisses

Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • Type: Washed-rind Soft Cheese
  • Region: Burgundy
  • Description: This strong, sophisticated cow’s milk cheese was first made in a monastery in the small village
  • of Époisses almost five centuries ago. From the 17th century onwards, the production of the cheese was taken over by farmers. Their know-how helped make this cheese famous. A magnificent balance was created, between the rich terroir and the stubbornness of the farmers who were determined to keep their very unusual recipe alive. In the mid-20th century, dairies became involved, enabling Époisses to keep its place in the Burgundy cheesemaking landscape and then begin to develop.
  • Production Method: Époisses is still made exactly the same way as when it was first invented. Whole milk is used, and it is not skimmed or standardised. Slow lactic coagulation produces fragile, delicate curds which are difficult to drain. The fresh cheeses are sprinkled with dry salt and ripened in cool, damp cellars for at least four weeks, during which they are washed with salt water to which Marc de Burgundy is progressively added.
  • Characteristics
    • Appearance: Depending on the age of the cheese, it is an orangey to brick-red colour, with a smooth or slightly
    • wrinkled shiny rind. The body of the cheese is white to pale beige, creamier under the rind and
    • whiter in the middle.
    • Texture: The body is creamy and supple. The centre can be firmer and more crumbly.
    • Aroma: The scent can be marked. It is clean and fruity, with undergrowth aromas and slightly animal notes.
    • Flavour: The powerful flavours which last on the palate are tempered by fruity, lactic notes and the meltin-the-mouth texture. Combined together, these give the cheese a roundness and make it a luxurious and balanced mouthful.

Mimolette

Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • Type: Uncooked Pressed Cheese
  • Region: Traditionally produced in the city of Lille (north of France)
  • Description: Some believe that in the 17th century, the French minister Colbert forbade the importation of
  • foreign goods, including cheese, and so the French began making it for themselves. It is now made in Flanders and also in other parts of France, particularly Brittany, and it is often known as ‘Boule de Lille’. The name Mimolette derives from ‘mi-mou’ meaning ‘half-soft’. The name Boule de Lille derives from a ripening cellar in the city of Lille, where the cheese was originally matured.
  • Production Method: Mimolette can be eaten young but is usually matured for a minimum of six months when it is called ‘demi-Ă©tuvĂ©e’ or ‘demi-vielle’ (half old). The texture is firm and oily and the colour a vivid orange. With ageing it slowly hardens and dries and the colour changes from carrot to orangebrown. At twelve months it is called ‘vielle en Ă©tuvĂ©e’ (old) and at two years it is called ‘très vielle’ (very old).
  • Characteristics
    • Appearance: A thin, rough, dry rind of a gray to brown color; a very homogeneous, very dense orange to reddish paste that can occasionally show a few small round bubbles.
    • Texture: The texture of this cheese varies from soft to firm and brittle depending on its age.
    • Flavour: Its flavor is lightly salty; its taste is mild and buttery when the cheese is young, but it becomes more persistent and takes on hazelnut notes as it matures.

Triple Crème

Photo Credit: Pinterest
  • Type: Bloomy Rind Cheese
  • Region: Champagne
  • Description: Triple Crème is a cheese made from cow’s milk and with an extremely soft centre. Its softness
  • is explained by the addition of cream to the milk during the production of the cheese. Under its white bloomy rind, Triple Crème reveals a gooey and creamy centre with a delicate buttery texture and a mild and indulgent flavour.
  • Characteristics:
    • Appearance: It is pale butter yellow in colour.
    • Texture: The interior paste of Triple Crème is dense, soft and smooth with occasional small holes.
    • Flavour: Triple Crème is rich, buttery and tastes slightly of mushrooms and almonds.

Bleu d’Auvergne (Blue Cheese)

Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • Type: Blue cheese
  • Region: Auvergne
  • Description: Antoine Roussel perfected Bleu d’Auvergne in 1854 and it was then passed down from producer to producer. More than 160 years later, this veined cow’s milk cheese is a favourite with fans of strong, perfumed cheeses.
  • Characteristics:
    • Appearance: A very thin, naturally velvety blue-grey rind covers a moist, cream body spangled with the cavities in which the blue-green mould develops.
    • Texture: A moist, fragile body which crumbles as it is cut, yet melts in the mouth.
    • Aroma: A “blue” smell akin to damp undergrowth blended with notes of fresh milk.
    • Flavour: The slightly salty taste is accompanied by the strong, characteristic flavour of blue cheese,
      reminiscent of the damp cellar and the rustic Auvergne terroir. The strong, lasting flavour is tempered by a delicate, melt-in-the-mouth texture.

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