Friday, September 26, 2008
What do chefs know about cheese?
Not a lot if the results of a survey recently published in Restaurant magazine are anything to go by. Of their top ten cheeses (which the magazine rather overexcitedly dubs the 'world's best') eight were from France and two from England. None from those great cheese producing countries Italy or Spain (Hello! What about parmesan and Gorgonzola?) let alone Portugal or Greece. Could it be because the survey was commissioned by the French cheese promotional body Frencheese which is currently running a feature on the poll on their website? Perish the thought!
The fairly predictable list included Montgomery's Cheddar, Brie de Meaux, Colston Bassett Stilton, Camembert de Normandie, Roquefort Cartes, Comté, Mont d’Or, Beaufort, Chaource and Ossau Iraty from Fromagerie Agour (did the chefs actually specify the producer, unprompted? Unlikely. I wouldn't have done.)
I wasn’t over-impressed either with the dishes cited in the piece as examples of what ‘modern cooks’ are doing with cheese. Pork and Brie Gateau, onion soup with fried Camembert and (yuk) Brie and Mussel Stew. I love Brie and I love mussels but please, not in the same dish.
Frencheese had arranged for journalists to go and taste the cheeses at what many consider the best cheese shop in London, Patricia Michelson’s La Fromagerie in Moxon Street. She obviously considered the selection slightly unbalanced and sneaked in an ash-coated goats’ cheese and an Epoisses. All were superb, as you’d expect, especially the Beaufort, one of my own favourite cheeses. And I discovered an interesting wine match for Brie (always a tough cheese to pair) with a crisp dry Hirondelle Bianco Greco from Puglia that Michelson stocks in her shop and café.
She also served a small bowl of Fontainebleau, a delicious mixture of fromage blanc and whipped cream topped with a few wild strawberries. Now that’s a creative use of cheese!
Maybe a few more chefs should hang out in her shop ;-)