Saturday, September 20, 2008

Travels with a stinky cheese

Smelly cheese, it has to be said, does not make a good travelling companion.

It was barely 20 minutes since I'd bought a selection of artisanal cheeses from Paxton and Whitfield in Jermyn Street, including what I subsequently discovered was a particularly smelly beer-washed cheese called Saulxurois* that I began to be conscious of their presence. In a café (embarrassingly). On the train - despite being up in the luggage rack. In the kitchen even though I'd wrapped it in a plastic bag and encased it in a box in the fridge. The smell still seeped out.

I consulted Ruaridh Buchanan the cheese buyer for P & W. "Ah, yes" he said. "I am afraid that particular cheese is a very smelly one. It's best to consume it soon after purchase. I think you should invest in some Tupperware, if a second fridge is not an option. It would be fine for about a week if you can handle the smell though. Serve it with a glass of dark continental beer.

Four days on I finally plucked up the courage to remove the cheese from the fridge and its wrapping and try it. Barring the smell I have to say it was magnificent especially with a glass of Orval (dark Belgian beer). And even better, a glass of . . . no I'm afraid I can't tell you that. You'll have to wait for the book ;-)

* Confusingly it's also labelled Carré de L'Est, a style of cheese that is also associated with the Champagne region whereas this one comes from the town of Saulxures which is in Lorraine. The recommended wine pairing, in my copy of Les Fromages, incidentally, is a Pinot Noir d'Alsace - in my view a potentially disastrous combination. The French are still wedded to red wine with cheese.

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