Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The cheese with no name

I guess most people would still think that France was one of the best places in the world to buy cheese. I hate to disabuse you but it's not - or not down in the Languedoc anyway. The choice is either between the industrially produced cheeses that fill the supermarket shelves or nameless cheeses like the ones above that sell from small market stalls. You can actually buy better French cheeses in my home town of Bristol - and wouldn't pay a lot more for them.

The one above - a semi-hard goats' cheese similar to Pecorino in style - was actually quite tasty with a pleasing firm texture and tang - as indeed it should have at around 24 euros a kilo, roughly the same price as a good piece of steak. But the other day I came across an ill-made very 'cowy' cows' cheese for much the same price that wasn't appealing at all.

All the fabulous little cheese shops I remember from 20 or so years ago in France seem to have disappeared - unless you're in a big city like Paris or Lyon. Sad.


Loulou said...

Les Halles in Narbonne or Béziers are the best places for cheese, as are some of the local markets. You're right though, no good little cheese shops around unless you count La Ferme in Narbonne or Carcassonne.
Although I do remember a fantastic Fromagerie in Montpellier that I visited several years ago.

I get delicious local cheese at the Olonzac market and in Lézignan-Corbières. And there's an ewe's milk cheese producer in the Corbières who is amazing!

Sorry to hear that you haven't had a great cheese experience this trip.

LKL said...

There's a great little cheese shop in the vieille ville of Hyères (south of France, between Marseille and Nice). I asked for etorki and learned that it's a processed industrial cheese. The fromager recommended two others to me, both of which are fanastic. So they do still exist even in smaller cities.

Fiona Beckett said...

Beziers isn't bad, Loulou (aka Jen!) but - call me unreasonable - I resent having to drive 25 minutes and find somewhere to park to find a decent cheese. Olonzac and Lézignan would be even further

It's good to hear that you find it easier in Provence LKL, as a friend does in Haute-Savoie. Incidentally I must follow your page more closely on About.com to get my French back up to scratch ;-)