French Cheese Tasting with Waldemar Albrecht – Marcella The Cheesemonger International Guilde des Fromagers
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French Cheese Tasting with Waldemar Albrecht

Photo Courtesy Naomi Fujinaka

Thursday was National Cheese Lovers’ Day and The Lady Left Me at Home to Attend a Cheese Tasting with Waldemar Albrecht…Sheesh…

A belated Happy National Cheese Lovers’ Day to my fellow cheese lovers… aka… turophiles…

Let me ask you, my loyal readers, Is there any feline or humankind (for that matter) who loves cheese more than moi? Rhetorical, of course…

And yet, here I sat, Thursday, doing all the heavy lifting while The Lady was out, once again, rubbing elbows with a bunch of Cheese Swells… it’s just wrong…

The Lady claims that The Tualatin Country Club is another one of those “Restricted” places that allows no pets… what’s up with that… almost every manse in America is home to a pet, usually of the feline and/or inferior canine persuasion, but most public places where humankinds hang, won’t let a pet even peek through the door much less enter and mingle… it’s time for my fellow felines and canines to drop our differences; rise up; unite and protest this rampant discrimination…

But I digress… The Lady and her cheese friend, Cheryl, carpooled to enjoy cheese tastings with renowned Cheesemonger, Waldemar Albrecht, at the gentile Tualatin “No Pets” Country Club.  Waldemar recently served several years as Head Fromager (Cheesemonger Extraordinaire) at Artisanal Bistro. Today he puts together cheese and wine adventures all over the world and shares his knowledge and passion for cheese, wine and beer with other enthusiasts and professionals.

As for the tasting The Lady attended… I am soooo jealous…

In addition to several of The Lady’s fellow Cheesemongers, my friend, Naomi from Lactalis was there and sporting new, sassy glasses. The Lady met Sharee, also from Lactalis and they chatted about cheese, France and blogging. I trust (yea, right) The Lady explained to Sharee that I, your humble Feline Foodie, am the power behind the cheese throne and that The Lady is strictly a figurehead and spell checker…

David, Marcia and Kym from Willis Marketing helped put the event together with Lactalis and the folks at DPI…yep, the same DPI that banned my blog … Russ, Anna, Sarah, Debbie and Doug were all there as well… it was a gathering of the best of the Portland Cheese Swells… and I was left at home… again… but I’m not bitter.

The reason all these Cheese Swells gathered was to meet Waldemar and enjoy a journey through a tasting of the Mercedes Benz of Lactalis French Cheeses.

Waldemar began by sharing his knowledge of the basics of cheese: history and origin of cheese; types of milk used to make cheese; the basic styles of cheese and a few personal anecdotes. Then he took the group through a tasting of the cheeses and paired them with three wines and one beer.

The first cheese on the plate was St. Maure, s soft-ripening goat cheese log that ripens from the outside inward creating a creamy rim surrounding a lovely paste. The goat tang is there without over-powering and has none of that bucky aftertaste that The Lady and I too often find in goat cheese, such as the dreadful hard goat cheddar that is definitely banned around the manse.  The St. Maure paired well with the Hess Sauvignon Blanc wine.

Following the goat cheese, Waldemar introduced the group to Le Chatelain Camembert, another winner from the Lactalis family. This cheese is made in Normandy where Marie Harel first created camembert in the late 18th Century. This cheese is aromatic, which might scare the novice, but don’t let that stop you, this cheese is rich and creamy. Because it is “gently” pasteurized, it retains most of the authentic flavors you find in the raw-milk version you can only buy in France. This cheese paired well with the Adelsheim Pinot Noir.

Next on the plate was the “Sister” of the Camembert: Le Chatelain Brie. This cheese is a notch up from the Brie that most Americans know; it has a kick like the Camembert just sampled by the Swells. As they tasted this wonderful, stronger Brie, Waldemar explained that there is little difference between brie and camembert. The basic difference is size: Camembert comes in the 250 ml. size (approximately 8 ounces in the US) and Brie is produced in the 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) and 3 kilogram (6.6 pounds) sizes. The Le Chatelain Brie had aftertastes of broccoli and cauliflower… and The Lady loved it. It’s Brie… what’s not to love. It paired well with the Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon.

The next cheese was a favorite around the manse, P’tit Basque from the Pyrenees region of France. This half kilogram barrel which is wrapped in wax is a creamy semi-soft sheeps’ milk cheese that is made by Istara. The Lady felt it went best with the Rogue Chocolate Stout. This cheese is creamy, melts on the palate and leaves you begging for more.

Following the P’tit Basque, a French Cheddar – Cantalet – was tasted… I know, the French claim they don’t make Cheddars but this cheese is actually the grand-daddy of cheddars and was made in France before the cheesemakers landed in England. This cheese is made using the cheddaring process and that pretty much makes it a cheddar. The Lady and I love this cheese and it’s a very popular cheese at The Kiosk as well. The creamy, yellow paste of this cheese is a beauty and it’s mild and a great “kid-Friendly” cheese as well. The Lady thought this cheese paired well with the Adelsheim Pinot Noir.

After the Cantalet, another favorite at the manse, Comte, was tasted. This is probably the most favorite of all the alpine-style cheeses and The Man and I are always grateful when The Lady brings a wedge home for us to taste and enjoy. The Lady also likes to cook with this cheese. Comte is a washed rind; pressed cheese that universally pleases cheese lovers. Creamy, mild with just a bit of an after bite, Comte should be one of those cheeses you always have available in your cheese drawer.

The last cheese was also the first French cheese to obtain the coveted French PDO protection: Roquefort, the King of blue cheeses. Made with sheeps’ milk and moldy rye bread, Roquefort is aged in limestone caves and follows the strictest of rules throughout production. The version tasted was the Abbaye Roquefort, the Societe version sold to the US market. This cheese is medium in intensity and appeals to most cheese lovers in here. There is a milder version sold in France and there is also the Fleurine Roquefort, a super-strong version, sold almost exclusively in the region where Roquefort is made.  The Roquefort was an ideal match with the Chocolate Stout.

The Lady gives the Lactalis French Cheese Plate 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

She asked me to thank the Swells from Lactalis, Willis Marketing and DPI for putting this fabulous evening together. She also was thrilled to meet and chat with Waldemar and thanks him for taking time from his busy schedule to spend time with the group.

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