It’s Sunday Morning: Time to Talk Cheeses – Culinaria France – Marcella The Cheesemonger International Guilde des Fromagers
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It’s Sunday Morning: Time to Talk Cheeses – Culinaria France

Today’s posting requires a little back story… and how I love back story.

Back in the day, when The Lady was still slinging cheese at the Fred Meyer on Hawthorne in Portland, two of her favorite customers were a young couple who love specialty cheeses, especially those from Spain. The husband was Spanish and the two of them enjoyed visiting his homeland. On one occasion they brought in a book, Culinaria Spain, for The Lady to view. They were kind enough to lend it to The Lady (and yes, she did return it promptly… although reluctantly…). She fell in love with the book and the concept of a series of books that go beyond being just a “cookbook” and explore the foods of different countries.

She added several of the books to her “Wish List” at Amazon and assumed when thinking of Christmas, The Man would explore her “wishes”… but alas… The Man did not and The Lady finally decided to begin acquiring the series on her own…

The series is updated every few years and The Lady bought a used copy of Culinaria France… new each book in the series is around $40.00 which becomes quite an investment… The copy The Lady bought is the 2007 edition and used was $12.00… much easier on the purse… especially if she is going to buy several… which is her plan…

As you might recall, The Lady won a trip to France last summer but with her Murray’s Cheese position, had to forfeit it and ended up spending a week in Italy… which she loved… but in her chest beats the heart of a Francophile

Culinaria France arrived Friday and yesterday The Lady and I curled up on the couch and began exploring our new mania… I guess I should say “her” new mania, but I’ve noticed that whatever is going on with The Lady… somehow I get sucked into her vortex of life… not an entirely bad place to be as humankind goes… it could be worse…

The book is divided into regions of France and each chapter explores the foods, drinks and culinary customs of each region. Culinaria France is more than 450 pages and we have made it from Paris and Ile de France to Champagne, through Normandy, into the Loire Valley, on to Burgundy, Lyon, Bordeaux and into the Basque region. There are many more regions to explore and while we are making a quick pass through the book, it will take many, many more hours to study the book in detail… more curling up time with The Lady…

As you might guess, cheese is a prominent ingredient in the Culinaria of  every region of France and The Lady and I both swooned… usually a reaction reserved for The Man… viewing the Gunter Beer photography of the cheeses… each region offers up its own special cheeses:

When thinking of Paris, Brie is the cheese that comes to mind. In the Alsace region, you would want to sample the Munster, created by the Benedictine Monks; in Normandy you would find many rich, creamy Camemberts, first made by the legendary Marie Harel.

In the Loire Valley, you can explore some amazing goat cheeses… did you know that many fine wines come from vines that “suffer”… the terrain of the Chavignol is rocky, dry and not friendly to most agriculture ventures. The wine-making families of the Loire Valley, while creating wonderful Sancerre, also kept goats… goats that were undemanding and thrived on the uninviting landscape. These families began to supplement their income from wine by making goat cheese which became so revered that in 1976 Crottin de Chavignol  was awarded its own Appellation.

In the Jura region, more than 200 families are making Comte, the King of Mountain cheeses, another Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC)cheese (1952). To be Comte, strict regulations must be followed: there is a ban on feeding silage to the cows; no additives of color (such as annatto) can be added to the cheese and only natural calf rennet can be used with enzymes only made from the area’s natural flora. The milk is also unpasteurized… who can argue here with government regulations… Comte is one of the truly great cheeses of the world.

Lyon is the home of Saint Marcellin, which we reviewed recently. And in the Basque region of France, you find many luscious sheep milk cheeses including one of our favorites, Ossau Iraty… BTW… the Basque Cheeses of France are much less militant than their counterparts made across the border in Spain…

In Auvergne, you find Roquefort, the first cheese to be awarded an Appellation (1921) and many other famous AOC cheeses such as Bleu d’Auvergne and Fourme d’Ambert. There are other incredible cheeses from this region as well: Cantal, Saint-Nectaire and Salers, to name just a few.

Each section of the book includes recipes and you can fly to Vegas and make book that The Lady will be treating The Man and Moi to many of them… she began last night with Monsieur Croque which will be #28 in our grilled cheese series… recipe will be posted later today along with a history of this Parisian Bistro-born dish.

If you are a foodie, love cooking, enjoy reading about other cultures and/or like to be taken away to another place… then Culinaria France is a must-add to your library.

I give Culinaria France 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Next Sunday, I will be sharing with you my interview with Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker, Kerry Henning, of Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese.

And tomorrow, we will announce our first winner in our June Giveaway of Sully’s Date Jams. All you have to do to be entered to win is sign up for my email newsletter alerts. I promise to never sell your email address or use it for nefarious reasons… seriously… I promise. (If you are a current subscribers and have not won in the past 30 days, you are already entered in the drawing… and thanks for subscribing…)



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