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Tag: Stinky French Cheese

Lazy Bread Recipe

Roasted Garlic Fennel Wholewheat Ciabata

Here’s you: It’s Saturday or Sunday, Monday maybe even, you don’t know, but you’re hungry. Not that idiotic snickers I must have instant satisfaction now! kinda hungry, but some kind you haven’t felt for a long time. What the hell, eat some almonds, be done with it, move on.

No nuts, no chocolate, not even teriyaki salmon jerky for chrissakes. But what’s that? A pristine triangular package of French Brie sitting lonely in the lower recesses of the fridge. Cheap, of course, but still, cheese. This goes that deep. Suddenly this is about Stinky French Cheese. Someone should do some goddamn shopping around here, you say aloud, to no one in particular. Because you live alone. You are talking to yourself, yelling at the walls again. You are alone. Pathetic.

Splashes of Dreamlike Food Memories Are Haunting You

Splashes of Dreamlike Food Memories Are Haunting You

Head slumped, still digging in the pantry, shaking a bit now from low blood sugar, hallucinating last week’s bruschetta, willing to give a kidney – hey, I’ve got two! – for anything to pair with the Brie, eyeing the week-old open bottle of cheap red wine a bit too long, you see an abundance of one thing and one thing only: flour. Don’t know what kind of flour as you decided, for some goddamn reason, flour packaging to be passe some time ago, also apparently opted for the non-marking-with-sharpie-of-flour-type-on-generic-ziplocs. Ooh, whimsical me! So grab the 3 or 4 semi-translucent flour-filled bags, a couple bowls, the brown misshapen package marked yeast & then you begin.

Lazy Bread Recipe

First, don’t really clean the cutting board from last night’s dinner, the extraneous crumbs & sauces will add zest to your bread. Since the flour could be tainted with rat poison, mix dutifully, though no sifting. Who the hell actually owns a sifter? Do you? Pussy.

Next add a teaspoon of seasalt, a tablespoon of sugar – oops out of sugar – so some honey, maple syrup, sweetened chocolate, lemon drops, (miso?) will substitute well. Anything to get that yeast activating. Alternatively, if you can muster the energy to break into your neighbor’s apartment, do it, but under no circumstances should you actually go to the store. Might as well buy bread while you’re out. And get me a 40oz. of OE while you’re there. Widemouth.

All the while of course you’ve been blooming your 2 teaspoons of yeast in 1 3/4 cup warm water (You like that? “Bloomin’ your yeast” Totally made that up right now), but since you don’t have hot or even warm water you’ve got to either wait for the kettle to boil or go take some from the bathtub, which seems to be the more efficient, more of a French solution to the problem. Eh, pourquoi pas!

Soon Your Knife Hand Will be So Busy Smearing Cheese Here it's Not Very Funny At All

Soon Your Knife Hand Will be So Busy Smearing Cheese Here it’s Not Very Funny At All

So you’re yeast is blooming, and you’ve got your four cups of flour, throw in some olives if you’ve got some, and mix it already dammit! The thing is you’ve probably not added enough flour so choose a handful or so from mystery bag A, B or C and toss it in while stirring with some grizzly old whisk that breaks! Fearsome God of Goats Cheese! I curse your ill-born mother’s dollar whisk. I’ll break you! What the hell does that even mean? I did break you. Alright, take a break. Smoke a cigarette. Play some online poker or something. Actually doesn’t air help mix the flour & yeast molecules better? Yeah, so this is good for the bread. Cool. We are in control.

Being in control is the thing. So do it. Quit half-heartedly thinking about masturbating to softcore Tumblr sites and get up off your ass and finish the bread. Get your hands in it. Reach in there dammit! Oh, you washed them didn’t you? Oh well, write it down as “zest” in the recipe. “Schlooge” that too wet dough up and get residual flour everywhere on you so much so you’re hoping the cops don’t bust in mistaking you for some damn Colombian, to make it – your lazy dough – oh so like the Beatles, come together. When you’ve done enough kneading to change the chemical composition from liquid to semi-solid, go ahead and kick back bro, or sis. But maybe first you’d better grease up that bowl – nah, don’t clean it first – with some of that chili-garlic infused olive oil you made up last month. Damn, you hot sucka! and then, yeah, go ahead, take a seat, but wash your damn hands first before you get wet doughy wannabe man goo all over the damn couch like I did, making all manner of moths and the like come bombing down on you nipping at the crust of wheaty rosemary goodness hardening around the hair on your hands that’s gonna feel like a wax job getting it off later.

You should let it rise for an hour or so and then wrap it and refrigerate it overnight, but did you forget how damn rumbly your tum-tum is? Damn Geena! You a forgetful fool ain’t’cha?

Bake that mug up at 450C for 40 minutes, flipping and spritzing it with water. Little Bitch.

Damn Excellence in Amateur Baking

Damn Excellence in Amateur Baking

But, wait before you do that, slice the top in some geometrically intricate pattern with some sharp steak knife you probably stole from Outback making it look all professional so when your friends come over they’re all, “Yo, B, dude, which completely unreal bakery you get this buttery madness from already?” Nod your head, grinning wicked. Wake up bitch, we ain’t done! Crust that badboy up with some more of your slavoringly savory olive oil infusion and toss some the good herbs on top of that, you know the ones. You know you wanna let it sit out on a raised aerated surface like some country momma’s apple pie you know you’d steal too, but you ain’t got that kinda time, do ya cowboy?

You know what you just did? You just made the goddamndest tastiest bread in whichever tri-state area you hail from (Don’t pretend you don’t either. I know you!) and you didn’t even try did you? You might also consider cutting it in cute triangle-shaped quadrants and wrap it in a decorated cellophane with ribbon you curled with the scissors and give it away to the hottee down the hall, but on second thought, what’d she think of you giving her so damn cute bread? Probably she’d thank you all flirtatiously, go straight to your best friend’s house (even though she don’t know the fool) and screw his brains out, telling him as she slams the door on her way to Pilates class to tell you that she just cut out the middle man and cheated on you early before you could give her any more of that damnly delicious bread. So, in pre-retrospect you might as well just eat it all yourself. I heard in Russia kids are brought up well and oxen-strong like on just bread and vodka. Try it out!

Little Baby Jesus In Velvet Underpants

Little Baby Jesus In Velvet Underpants

Little Baby Jesus In Velvet Underpants

Little Baby Jesus In Velvet Underpants

Rivesaltes Grenat wines–blood ruby red–are aged for a minimum of nine months, like a fresh little baby jesus. Paired with Fourme d’Ambert it resembles as we say here in France le petit Jesus en culotte de velours.

Fourme d’Ambert is one old cheese, so revered and venerated (with a lovely stinky French Cheese bouquet) even the Romans used to gorge on it. Made from raw cow’s milk and aged for 28 days out of Auvergne, it’s known for its distinct, cylindrical shape.

Although it has jumped through the various hoops of corporate production and being recognized with an AOC (controlled designation of origin) in 2002, recent artisanal production has been using raw milk, and four farms produce about 35 tons of the raw stinky goodness.

Pairing it with Rivesaltes–an appellation for the historic sweet wines of eastern Roussillon, in the deep south of the French Pyrenees near Cataluña–is a great choice. This area is well-known for its sweet vin doux naturel wines made from Grenache of all varieties (Noir, Blanc and Gris). Vin doux naturel are an aperitif or digestif wine differing from ice wines in that vins doux naturels are made by mutage, a process of stopping must fermenting while a high level of natural sweetness exists. High levels of residual sugar means high alcohol (between 15% and 17% ABV)–this Grenat is sweet and packs a wallop.

French Food Roadtrip 7 - le Buget & Montbéliard

French Food Roadtrip 7 – le Buget & Montbéliard

The next step was to be in le Jura because, as said previously, there is some serious sausage made over there. The driving is not particularly nice if one is to take the highway but if one has time and can take small roads one will be delighted with the landscape and could stop somewhere along the way for a nice lunch, of course. It is interesting, see, because the path goes through le Buget and one of le Buget‘s specialities are… frog legs! Given my ancestry (and nicknames) it would be some sort of an heresy not to have some, wouldn’t it?

So we stopped in Morestel and I had some cuisses de grenouilles au beurre persillé (frog legs fried in butter and parsley) served with some zucchini and a gratin de crozet. So the stereotypes are indeed true, we froggies do it frogs. Deal with it. Only the legs are eaten and those were absolutely delicious, quite meaty and soft, almost swimming in melted butter. It is vital to eat is very warm. The gratin de crozet was a perfect way to complement consistency and flavors. Crozets are a very special sort of pasta, locally made with buckwheat or durum, cut very small in little square and dried. Some people think the name comes from “croé“, an old word from Savoie (a French area in the Alps) meaning “small.” Well, they are small, so why not? I really like them in gratin with some Beaufort cheese. They can also be made as a croziflette: an equivalent to the famous tartiflette, replacing potatoes. Anyhow, cheese, crème fraîche and potatoes or crozet: count me in!

French Food Roadtrip 7 – le Buget & Montbéliard

The rest of the day drive was uneventful, only stopping to get gas and buy some vin jaune. Yes, at the same place, one can get both in a supermarket in France, and much more. Yellow wine is a very special wine from le Jura. It would require a complete post (and stay) to describe the differences between white wine, sweet wine, port wine, fortified wine, etc. So Heso Magazine’s boss will have to send me back there!? In a nutshell it is made out of Gewürztraminer grapes and it is then matured in a wooden barrel (oak mostly) but not topped. Then a thin layer of yeast naturally forms (called le voile in French, the veil) and partially protects the wine from oxidation. This is a slow process as the veil typically takes about three years to form and the wine is ready around 6 years and some. The aromas are very rich: walnut, hazelnut, almonds, etc. but also sometimes cinnamon and grilled bread. It is not, however, a sweet desert wine. Needless to say it is worth going there only for that and can be enjoyed with countless food specialities involving the yellow wine in the cooking. Le Jura is a very attractive area when it comes to food. However, we had land to cover and were supposed to sleep in Montbéliard (Doubs, France) in order to have an easy drive the next day and reach Strasbourg (Alsace, Bas-Rhin, France) and eat a choucroute!

Montbéliard delivered the goods in terms of food and drinks… Here is what my partner in food crime has to say about it…

[words by Rowena Koh] From Montbéliard, meditations on the French and food

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the French, it’s that as much as they love to eat, they equally love to talk about food, especially while eating the food they’re talking about.  Whether the conversation starts out on the mundane events of the day, the recent travels of a family friend, or something the neighbour said about the weather, always and eventually, the discussion reorients itself back towards the finding, preparation and eating of food. Yes, the French have earned a special place in my foodie heart.

A and I had our own culinary conversation at the simultaneously classy and homey L’Horloge in Montbéliard.

R : “That’s a whole wheel of cheese on your plate.”

A : “Yep.”

R : “A whole wheel! Just taken off the shelf and stuck in the oven. Just like that.”

A : “That’s totally normal.”

R : “But… it’s a whole wheel!”

I kept going on like that, with the Frenchman looking at me like an idiot. And in fact, it was explained to me, that before the wheel of cheese is stuck in the oven, it actually has a hole dug out of it into which white wine is poured.  Yes, a whole wheel of cheese AND wine! I suppose my astonishment had to do with the fact that a wheel of this fresh, soft, creamy, mellifluously yummy l’edel de Cléron would most certainly cost more than what we paid for the entire dish itself at a supermarket in Canada.

That wheel of cheese in fact made up a tiny portion of what we found on our plates that night. La grande assiette regionale lived up to its name alright, with several slices of tender smoked ham, a rustic, country-style pate paired with pickled pearl onions and cornichons, local sausage (of course) prepared two different ways, a potato and onion fritter affectionately referred to as une rejetée (literally, something rejected), a slow poached egg, perfectly cooked until the whites were set and the yolk golden and velvety, and real, sinus-burning, dijon mustard.  Oh yeah, salad too, served as a garnish more so than a side dish.

Such an overwhelming assortment of meaty and robust tastes and smells might cause the unfamiliar eater to gloss over the small pot of creamy liquid inconspicuously placed on the edge of the plate.  Cancoillote is a delicious cheese with a consistency that makes you want to play with your food, running your knife through it before picking it up quickly, then allowing it, both runny like a thin custard and stretchy like mozzarella, to fall lazily back into the pot.  It is made principally in the region of Franche-Comté by melting pure metton (the cheese) with some water or milk, and maybe salt and butter, then served either cold or warm.  In this case, it was warmed and meant to be drizzled over everything on the plate.

As the cook mentioned to us as she made her rounds, they’re good eaters around those parts. “Better to have too much food on your plate than not enough,” she said.  When the quality, diversity and coherency of the meal is as finely tuned as what we inhaled that night, it’s hard to argue with her.  Plus, the more food there is on your plate, the more you have to talk about at your next family dinner.

Read the Entire French Food Roadtrip

After a couple of train rides we will arrive at our second stop: Txot Sidreria in Figueras, city of Salvator Dalí for the ones amongst you readership with a fancy for psychedelic painting. To be noted that this rather small Catalan town sports the world famous Dalí museum (yes, the one with the bathroom sculpted on the ceiling of some room, go figure…) However we were there to catch a car ride to the South of France but not before stopping for some new-school tapas and Basque Cider! Basque Country cider in Catalunya, you got to be kidding me!

After dragging ourselves out of the Cider-induced madhouse of Dali’s Figueres,we venture to the third stop on the French Food Roadtrip: a small house in the Pyrénées.

What could be better than that – A small house in the mountains? Oh yes, stop 4 on the French Food Roadtrip: Roussillon and the Sea.

After refreshing ourselves at Roussillon and the seaside, now it is time to move on and jump in the mix of French Food Roadtrip 5 – Center of la France!

Once you have a taste of the city, nothing but the best will do. This is where we take the French Food Roadtrip 6 – to Lyon & Grenoble.

This is getting intense people & I think you can feel it. Now that we survived Lyon by protecting ourselves with some of the best local cuisine, wine and beer we venture to French Food Roadtrip 7 – le Buget and Montbéliard in le Jura.

What is Choucroute? Come with us and find out on the French Food Roadtrip 8 – La Maison de la Choucroute in Strasbourg

And finally–though this is not the end–we must finish our French Food Roadtrip 9 – En passant par la Lorraine.

French Food Roadtrip 3 - Small House in the Pyrénées

French Food Roadtrip 3 – Small House in the Pyrénées

See, there is this place in the world I call home. It is a small village lying in the mountains in the French Pyrénées, at the foot of Mount Canigou. Wherever I may roam (yes yes, I know I know) I always long for this place and always end up there at some point or another. I grew up there even if only for the holidays (Easter and summer as a kid and then whenever I felt like going as my parents felt I was responsible enough to have my own set of keys, fools…) So now, as my life is pretty much quasi-nomadic I sort of consider this village my headquarters. Suffice it to say, the food around there is part of the deal.

French Food Roadtrip 3 – Small House in the Pyrénées

The (mostly) French Food Roadtrip 3 - Small House in the Pyrénées

Before the grill…

There is nothing in the village in term of stores, not even the über-ubiquitous bakery. One has to hike one’s way to find food in the nearby villages, in adjacent valleys. And in one of these villages there is… the Butcher, capital b. The man is a character, e un personaggio superiore! His shop is famous all over the area and increasingly farther away as tourists come to know about it, year after year. Around the end of the summer holidays, the line to bring some goods home can become quite impressive. What’s even more impressive is the slowness with which, no matter the length of said line, the man asks, “And what about your grandson, madam Bronchu? How is he doing? Has got himself a nice job, I hear… good good… A little more of sausage maybe? Some liver for the cat?” And if anyone in the line-up manifests any sign of restlessness (usually Parisians, ahah) he smirks and winks at a local while slowly cutting a nice piece of meat and detailing how, in his humble opinion, this particular one should be cooked… A delight. It took us about three quarters of an hour of something closer to street theatre than to trading, to buy our share of charcuterie. It could have taken longer, but I don’t care. I enjoy watching the man and there was no way I wasn’t going to leave with some of his saucisse anyhow.  For this is what he is really famous for: the Catalan sausage, to be grilled on a bundle of sarments (dried vines) with a side of roustes (or ventrèches, sort of grilled lard). Of course we also stocked up on some fouet  (literally the whip, a very dry and very thin sausage, pork of course… almost everything is made out of pork), boutifare (blood pudding, white and red, can be enjoyed cooked, grilled or as cold cuts) and various pâtés (it ranges from rabbit flavoured with Banyuls sweet wine to traditional no-thrill pork or pork with some Armagnac thrown in for good measure).

As it was too late to then return home and cook all that immediately (I’d have to chop some wood to feed the fireplace…) we decided to go to a bistro de village and enjoy some local stuff. There are a number of places all around Rousillon which provide cheap accommodation and food, only from local suppliers. We failed to call in advance so got a bit chastized but the cook still had some estofat on the stove. Saved! Estofat is a special way of cooking a stew very slowly. This one was made precisely with the same sausage and blood pudding from the Butcher. Well, I did tell you it was the place to go. We even managed to taste locally-brewed beers (though we failed to actually visit the brewery as the owner was away delivering his beer to a famous photo festival, it is a one-man operation). The cook also made a starter especially for us: a salad with goat cheese melted on some toasts accompanied with local honey. Fresh and delicious. The estofat was tasty and good-looking, presented with sweet potatoes and purple ones as well. We finished the meal with homemade sorbet, apple and blackberry. All that with a view on Mount Canigou.  A treat.

Of course three days in the village cannot go without having one of the neighbour’s mandatory apéritif that you never know when is going to end and what you are going to eat and/or drink… We showed up with a selection of boutifare, pâté on toasts, local cheeses and Cotes du Roussillon wine (close to Perpignan, roughly) to a nearby house and were welcomed with some southwest wines (close to Toulouse, roughly) and a savoury cake with olives and cheeses (comté and parmeggiano) amongst other things… The evening ended quite a few hours later with a tasting of Bas-Armagnac (also from around Toulouse) and we almost had to crawl back home even if it was served in des verres à goutte. This literally means “glasses for drops” as they are very small and the urban legend goes that if you put a drop of liquor outside of your glass while serving yourself you are too drunk and have to go home. A regular occurrence.

Read the Entire French Food Roadtrip

After a couple of train rides we will arrive at our second stop: Txot Sidreria in Figueras, city of Salvator Dalí for the ones amongst you readership with a fancy for psychedelic painting. To be noted that this rather small Catalan town sports the world famous Dalí museum (yes, the one with the bathroom sculpted on the ceiling of some room, go figure…) However we were there to catch a car ride to the South of France but not before stopping for some new-school tapas and Basque Cider! Basque Country cider in Catalunya, you got to be kidding me!

What could be better than that – A small house in the mountains? Oh yes, stop 4 on the French Food Roadtrip: Roussillon and the Sea.

After refreshing ourselves at Roussillon and the seaside, now it is time to move on and jump in the mix of French Food Roadtrip 5 – Center of la France!

Once you have a taste of the city, nothing but the best will do. This is where we take the French Food Roadtrip 6 – to Lyon & Grenoble.

This is getting intense people & I think you can feel it. Now that we survived Lyon by protecting ourselves with some of the best local cuisine, wine and beer we venture to French Food Roadtrip 7 – le Buget and Montbéliard in le Jura.

What is Choucroute? Come with us and find out on the French Food Roadtrip 8 – La Maison de la Choucroute in Strasbourg

And finally–though this is not the end–we must finish our French Food Roadtrip 9 – En passant par la Lorraine.

Cheeseboard full of Stinky French Cheese (Manny Santiago)

Stinky French Cheese

Have you ever opened a cheese and wondered what small rodent just died in the immediate vicinity? Or who suddenly started cooking bacon? As I progress in my lifelong quest to make the perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich it is only since I escaped the U.S. that I am truly beginning to glimpse the undiscovered country of Cheese. French Cheese. Stinky French Cheese. In some recent peregrinations hither and thither I’ve stumbled upon not a few of the finer, more malodorous cheeses that I feel need a bit of exposition. Which, of course, begs the self-reflexive questions: Are you a man? Or French? I am one and not the other and I do not believe that they are contextually interconnected whatsoever. I do however have frequent visions of myself eating a cornucopia of cheeses in the breezy French countryside, often shirtless, amongst the ruminating beasts of the earth, passing along sage advice to both wandering shepherds and bedroom eyes to bewitching maidens. Doesn’t everyone? For this, I thank cheese, specifically French cheese, called fromage (avec le flegme). Coming from the western U.S. my childhood version of cheese was bright yellow, square and came wrapped in cellophane, which cheese did not smell in the slightest (except maybe a bit like plastic) and reflected a bit too much an odd kind of light that was not actually there, facts that now scare me more than it is right to speak aloud. I see myself calming the barnyard animals grazing the hills and dales of the French countryside around me, as the wind picks up and maidens clutching at unbuttoned blouses point toward yonder barn. Hurry monsieur, tell us, why do some cheeses have strong aromas and other varieties don’t?

Stinky French Cheese

cheese_epoisses

cheese_epoisses

I’ve heard more than a couple swarthy Missoula, Montana Militiamen sucking on a bottle of Moose Drool comment that in France, especially Paris, people stink, and only recently started to bathe, something they call “douching”, so they have the best bacteria for cheese-making (true story). This is not true, at least not anymore, not since Jim Morrison (purportedly) died in a bathtub there and made bathing in wine all the rage. There are kernels of truth in most everything and although this might be pushing the limits what we can point to here after the tang of snuff has died down is the bacteria which gives most cheese its distinct flavor, but first we need Rennet. Rennet is a complex of enzymes naturally found in the stomachs of mammals used to process mother’s milk, one enzyme in particular called protease, which acts as a coagulant that separates the curds (cheese) from the whey (liquid). Of course it’s not the French who figured all this out (probably Caligula and his strange compulsion with animal innards), they just perfected the stink. Rennet used in vegetarian cheese is either fungal or bacterial, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s time we got to the goods, n’est-ce pas?

Commonly referred to as Époisses, this masterpiece of a cheese-making village is located in the Côte-d’Or of Bourgogne. As most cheeses, butters and wines are in the habit of being dubbed in France, Époisses de Bourgogne is a cheese made in the village of the same name- Époisses. A washed-rind cheese (washed in Marc de Bourgogne, the local brandy), which gives it the distinctive reddish hue, it is circular and sold in a wooden box, for that authentic neo-bourgeoisie pique-nique à la campagne feel, which probably was why it was Napoléon Bonaparte’s favorite cheese. An extremely pungent, unpasteurized cows-milk AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée) cheese, it, as are all raw cows-milk cheeses aged under 60 days, is actually illegal in the U.S. for just that unpasteurized reason. This makes me think of Joe Strummer belting out, “I’m so bored with the U.S.A.” Does it makes sense that the F.D.A. is scared of cheese, especially non- or low-aged varieties, so much so that any U.S. citizen reading this cannot buy the really good stuff (and as of 2012 no Californian can have anything to do with Foie gras either) yet McDonald’s questionable business practices and products are perfectly acceptable? On behalf of all ex-patriots I thank the Japanese government for not caring about animal rights whatsoever.

Roquefort for some serious grimace inducing hors d'oeuvres (Manny Santiago)

Roquefort for some serious grimace inducing hors d'oeuvres

If you can get your hands on them, a few sister cheeses to Époisses are the lesser known, non-pasteurized Petit Livarot (called the Colonel due to being wrapped in rafia, which apparently I ate…) from Normandie and Le Nuits d’Or also from Bourgogne. Another similarly red-skinned skunk is Maroilles (famous for being dipped in coffee in the French film Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis), which is square (for our U.S. readership, it’s like a Wendy’s hamburger), produced in both pasteurized and nonpasteurized varieties, generally a bit less barnyard-y than Époisses, and boasts more than 1000 years of history. As anyone with a general idea of French geography has gleaned from my selection, all of these cheeses are from the north. As I perch like the Gallic Cock upon my Nord-Pas-du-Calais hilltop overlooking the Straits, I am suddenly channeling the medieval troubadour-poet stylings of the Norman Trouvère Jean Renart and praise the French for all the good things in life: Fries, Kissing, Cheese & actresses ala Anne Marivin. Où caches-tu le fromage, ma belle Anne Marivin?

As a palate cleanser if you will, Anne Marivin is the very beautiful French actress in Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (Welcome to the Sticks) who, though she never actually eats any cheese on camera, you know that she has at some point, and it probably has never come out of a spray can, which is why I love her. I envision her coming toward me on my hilltop now, smiling coyly and carrying some Chimay Tripel toward my outstretched arms. That’s their secret: the French only eat the most olfactorily shocking cheese outside, on breezy hillsides where the breath of the person you will most likely know intimately matters little. C’est pas grave!

C’est tout? No! What love letter would be complete without the application of the proper perfume, which in this case is, obvious but, the only choice: Roquefort. Yes, this well-molded celebration of all things putrid is a sheep milk blue cheese from Roquefort-sur-Soulzon which is, yes, in the south of France aka Le Midi (as in Midday). Already boasting great weather overhead topless French women lining the Mediterranean beaches along the Côte d’Azur, why does the south deserve any more attention? Listen: Roquefort, a rindless A.O.C. with a protected designation due to its use of the natural caves of Mont Combalou for the aging process, this salty crumbly cheese shares its characteristic green, almost vaginal-shaped, crevasses of mold from the Penicillium roqueforti fungus with other exceptional blues like Stilton and Gorgonzola, but it’s better because it’s not English (horrible weather) or Italian (need I say more?). Let’s recap why it is, as well as the rest of the aforementioned stinkbombs, so good, so deserving of praise from a west coast born American ex-patriot living in Tokyo (where it costs at least double):

Eating cheese is sex. There’s a kind of unspeakable passion to it, that lovers of it understand with a sly nod and a wink. It’s creamy and messy and makes your blood run hot at the very mention of it. True, sometimes it’s got a funk attached to it, kind of an odd tang of genital musk. It carries a hint of the mephitic stench of sulfur in the sense of Faust’s Mephistopheles, but even more so it’s a bit of a devilish indulgence which can only reference the devil-may-care attitude of sensuality and voluptuousness. Eat it in a salad, on a cracker, or as a melted accompaniment to bruschetta atop toasted homemade wheat sourdough, or just all alone, but dammit, eat it!

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