Happy New Year, cheese friends! How were your holidays? I feel like we have only just begun ours . . . maybe it’s because we’re heading to France next week, after spending a glorious holiday week in the Yukon Territory already! I cannot wait to share all of it with you!
But first, the cheese! M. Cheesemonger and I spent a wonderful week with our Yukon Territory friends, and they made sure we were well fed. We even stopped by Whitehorse’s fine cheese shop, Cultured Fine Cheese, to pick up a couple (I mean, A LOT) of Canadian and French cheeses. Little did we know, the French cheese fairies would be sending a package of French fromages as well!
Here was our Franco-Canadian cheese board! Sorry about the lighting—with only about 5 hours of daylight at this time of year, it was hard to get good light during dinnertime!
Goat, pasteurized, traditional rennet, Loire Valley, France
My friends and I love ash-ripened goat cheeses, so when we saw this truncated pyramid of goodness at Cultured in Whitehorse, we had to grab some. I love its slightly granular texture, slightly citrus flavor, and bone white coloring. It’s an elegant addition to the cheese board, and one I am always happy to include if it’s available!
Cow, raw, traditional rennet, Normandy, France
Part of our French fromage package, this Camembert arrived bien fait, as in, ripe and ready RIGHT NOW! It was kind of unusually funky, which made me wonder if it had somehow gotten contaminated by a washed-rind cheese along the way, but you know, it was glorious anyway. The paste was slightly gooey and full of tiny eyes. The paste was an unusual yellow, with a tiny hint of orange (hence my questioning about cross-contamination). It smelled super funky, which might have been the result of its marinating in its own juices during its travels. In any case, it was stinky, full-flavored, meaty, and wonderful. We couldn’t eat it fast enough!
Meule de Savoie
Cow, raw, traditional rennet, Savoie, France
This was actually a new-to-me cheese, and I was glad for the taste! It is a mountain cheese, kind of similar to Gruyère in that it is made in a large format wheel, and is made with a pressed paste to make it rather dense. The cheese is made with summer milk. The handwritten label showing the August make date told us so about our specimen, but the prickly feeling on our tongues as we bit into the buttery cheese confirmed it. That prickly feeling is from histamines in the cheese, and tends to be present in milk nourished by lots of fresh grasses, herbs, and flowers. So that’s how you can experience springtime allergies on a winter cheese plate! This was a young Meule de Savoie, only about 5 months old instead of the usual 10 or so, so the flavors were buttery, mild, and uncomplicated, while the texture was creamy and a little floppy. I think this would make a fine melting cheese at any age!
Alfred Le Fermier
Cow, raw, traditional rennet, Fromagerie La Station de Compton, Québec, Canada
Another new-to-me cheese! We had to include at least one Canadian cheese, and the Alfred was a great follow-up to the young Meule de Savoie. This cheese, named for the farm’s founding family member, is an alpine style cheese aged 8-18 months. It’s got a pressed straw yellow paste, and flavors that can be fruity, nutty, and flowery all at once. This full-flavored Canadian member of the cheese board held its own in a sea of French cheeses! We can’t get this in San Francisco, so I was ultra happy to discover it!
Sheep, raw, traditional rennet, Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, France
Ahh, it is so special for me to be able to eat “real” French cheese, as in the raw milk versions. I savored every bite of this Roquefort, with its blue pockets of Penicillium roqueforti, and elegant, white paste. It was not as biting as other Roqueforts I have had in the past. Instead, it burst delicately on the tongue before mellowing out into an impossibly long, sweet, slightly floral finish. If only we had a glass of Sauternes or ice wine to go with it . . . .
Olives: Our olives got the least play, probably because we had so many better, homemade accompaniments. Oh well!
Choucroute: The homemade pickled cabbage was a huge hit! It was sweet, not too tangy, and added some welcome crunch to the mix.
Pickled Beets: I love beets, and M. Cheesemonger doesn’t, so I pounce on every occasion I can get to chow down on this delicious vegetable. If you want to preserve vegetables (and more) at home, I recommend the Wild Fermentation book by Sandor Katz. Our friends use it, and we’ve used it to preserve all sorts of foods.
Saucisson Sec au Beaufort: This saucisson sec with Beaufort cheese came from The Gourmet, a French import store in downtown Whitehorse. It was very popular, and disappeared long before any cheeses did!
Chilli Lime Almonds: I very quickly pan fried these almonds in lime juice, chilli powder, and salt, and everyone seemed to like them, so yay!
Pears: Sliced through width-wise like has been all the rage lately on Instagram, it’s good to have a little balance on the plate!
Salad: Our friends made a fennel pomegranate salad to up the roughage factor.
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Whitehorse and need your cheese fix, Cultured Fine Cheese has you covered (check their hours, though, because I think they open at 11am).
125-1116 Front Street (Horwood’s Mall)
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory Y1A 1A3
Did you have a cheese board to kick off the New Year? Let me know! Just tag me in your Instagram photos!
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