One of the many benefits of volunteering at the American Cheese Society conference (“ACS” for short) was the treasure trove of cheeses available for volunteers to take with them (You, too, can volunteer at the next one!). With over 1,600 cheeses entered into the ACS competition, there was a lot to go around. I took home about 20 cheeses, most of them unknown to me. I spent 2 mornings photographing and tasting them before sharing them with friends (speaking of which—I kind of want to have a Miss Cheesemonger gathering. How fun would that be? Let me know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!!).
One cheese that shone like a shooting star was the aptly named Météorite by La Maison Alexis de Portneuf, a surface ripened, ash-covered (pasteurized) cow’s milk cheese flecked with pockets of blue throughout the paste. It’s just gorgeous. Unopened, the snowy white round looks stunning with basket markings across its surface, highlighted by black ash. It almost looks like the cheese has been drawn into existence; just imagine the black as pencil marks and the white paste as paper. Opened, the cheese takes on a whole new quality. Small, sharply outlined blue pockets fleck the straw yellow paste. The line of ash around the edges become much more apparent. I just wanted to keep on taking more photos of it.
With all its visual splendor, it was a subtle cheese to smell and taste. It smelled more like stone than of milk. Tasting it, I noticed that it melted easily on my tongue, with little blue nuggets. The rind provided some bite, but boy, did it melt beautifully. What luxury! As for the taste, this round of Météorite definitely had elements of granite up front. The experience developed subtly, with slight notes of butter and a small, lingering swell of chicken soup-like umami toward the end.
Pairing-wise, I loved this with a drizzle of local clover honey, found during my last trip to Montréal. If I had port on hand, it would have matched well, too.
A note on the maker, the Maison Alexis de Portneuf is a reputed Québecois cheesemaker in a part of the country known for its cheese-making and agricultural tradition. Saint-Raymond, where you’ll find the creamery and shop, was established in 1842, thanks to the efforts of francophone settlers. The area looks gorgeous, full of mountains and forests to explore! The cheesemaker is known for its excellent cheeses; in 2009, its ash-ripened chèvre named Cendrillon took top honors at the World Cheese Awards. Have you guys ever visited the area, or this cheesemaker? I’m so curious to know what it’s like there!
And seriously, let me know if you’d be interested in doing a meet up! You can reach me on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest) and email! PLUS! I can come to your inbox with new stories and other fabulous cheese news if you subscribe to my mailing list!!