Say “fromage”

Oh yes, how the ‘f’ word makes me smile. I simply love cheese, and here in France there is an abundance of varieties.

(To be really, really, really honest, I don’t believe they have much to rival a good mature farmhouse Cheddar.)

Anyway, that’s beside the point.

Le fromage is an essential component of any good French meal, but given the enormous choice, how should you design the perfect cheese board?

I found this helpful article from The Livarot Diaries.  If I were to add one thing to that selection, it would be my French favourite, Ossau Iraty from the French Pyrenees. This gorgeous, firm cheese made from sheep’s milk in one of the most beautiful places we have been to in France, the Ossau Valley, is traditionally served with cherry jam made from the dark, juicy cherries that grow in the valley. It is a true love match, the jam’s Juliet to the cheese’s Romeo.


Ossau Iraty. Image: SHUTTERSTOCK/AFP

Incidentally, whilst looking for a link to the Ossau Iraty, I noted that it has twice been named the best cheese in the world. I won’t argue with that.


Pic du Midi, Ossau Valley. Wiki Commons.

It never ceases to be a source of wonder to me that man can produce, from one simple, same ingredient, so many distinct tastes and textures.

Bon appetit. Miam miam. 🙂


16 thoughts on “Say “fromage”

  1. What do I miss about France? My friends…and cheese.
    Cheese here is generally abominable so trips to Europe see me returning with suitcases with cheese crammed into every available space.
    All goes well unless my luggage is left behind in Madrid (one of Iberia’s little ways)…to be returned to me twenty four hours later by a man and his van.
    The last time that this happened the poor chap was enjoying a cold beer on the porch as I pulled the cases inside and asked if he could ask me something…
    Of course…
    Well, I don’t want to be funny…and we carry all sorts… but are you sure that something hasn’t died in those cases?
    I opened one and he reeled back from the blast from a selection of cheese kept in confinement too long for comfort…
    Cheese,I said.
    Oh,good. I’ll tell Customs when I get back….it smelt so terrible that they were too frightened to take a look……

    • 😀

      Reminds me of when our car died near Amiens many years ago, at the beginning of a long weekend. We had to put up in an hotel for three days until it was repaired.

      When we collected it we were almost knocked senseless. We’d been stocking up on garlic, fish soup and cheese, and after 3 days in a warm garage at the height of summer ……. phew!

  2. Were I doing one (veg sensitivities disregarded), I think the Liverot list was good. I agree with the addition of goats, and I would consider sheep or a mix. I think Manchego is over-rated. I’d add a crumbly British one, eg, Cheshire or Wensleydale.

    • I fight a battle with my conscience about eating cheese. It is a weakness. There are a few French vegetarian cheeses emerging timidly, but you have to look very hard at the labels. I’m not crazy about Manchego, either, and would agree about a crumbly Wensleydale. I’ve never liked Stilton, it doesn’t have the same bite as a Gorgonzola or Roquefort, but the white Stilton with apricots, or ginger, is rather delicious.

    • If you read ‘Travels with Tinkerbelle’, Bob, you’ll find a chapter about our visit there to watch the transhumance that takes place in June. When you and Beth come over, we’ll go there together.

  3. Now that French people have learnt how high calorie cheese is and are more sedentary than in the past, many have abolished it from their everyday meals. We have solved the problem by having a cheese and lettuce meal once a week. That way we can have normal quantities of each sort and not itty bitty pieces! There is a fine art to choosing complementary sorts and the lady at the cheese stall at our local market has been very helpful with making suggestions as we taste our way around her very wide selection. My favourite at the moment is Royal Briard, which must have a fat content of about 85%. Sigh.

    • In a perfect world, all cheese would be vegetarian, fat-free and negative-calorie. 🙂 I like the idea of a cheese meal once a week. Having tiny smidgins is just not satisfying, is it?

  4. I have written about my father-in-law before …. despite writing The French Cheese Book, an opus magni by any standards he still declared that nothing, nothing, nothing can beat a piece of farmhouse cheddar. For my part, I am nothing if not obsessed with the stuff and it is a huge bonus to be surrounded in France with so much of the good stuff!

  5. Things are looking up, Pip. Hope you weren’t also stuck in a 6 hours traffic jam. On the other hand, if you were, at least you’d have the Ossau Iraty to comfort you. 🙂

    Happy Christmas to you and Kim.

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