cheese I should eat?
I'm in Paris and wondered whether anyone had ideas about what cheese I should try while I'm here. I'm obviously interested in non-pasturized or raw milk type cheese which taste completely different in the states.
Good cheese's taste change everyday. With the exception of the kind of cheese you find in supermarket, you cannot except to have the same experience twice just because th cheese is named the same.
The best thing to do is to ask a knowledgeable fromager. The best is Marie-Anne Cantin, rue du Champ de Mars. Go in there, tell them what you like and ask what is particularly good today. And eat it within 48 hours. Preferably immediately, with fresh bread and dried figs... Alleosse is good too.
Also, best thing to do is to ask for tasting before you buy, so you know exactly whether you like it or not. Walk away from fromagers who won't let you.
Cantin is great, but I personally prefer Alleosse in the Marche Poncelet (13 rue Poncelet, 17eme). Favourite cheeses always include Tentation de St Felicien (mild, sweet, floral, gooey), Langres (terrifying to look at, challenging to smell, heaven to eat), and the famously character-rich Epoisse. For any of these cheeses, a good maitre fromager is a must, as they are living beasties. Tell the fromager when you plan on eating the thing, and he'll pick one that will be perfect for that moment. A while back, I wrote a bit about my first experience eating Epoisse. If you're keen, it's here: http://postcardsfromhome.blogspot.com...
Have fun. And don't ruin these cheeses with red wine.
do remember these extraordinary cheeses are live and must not be left alone to smell up your hotel room or apartment! St. Marcellin and St. Felicient from Lyon, Epoisse which may be the grandest cheese in the world, Reblochon, and don't forget a fine Brie or Camembert crude which will make you think the ones we eat here are Kraft cream cheese. A ripe Munster if you like strong and smelly cheeses, Cantal, Comte, Brebis among the fine hard cheeses, Roquefort and Blue D'Auvergne, and goats from fresh to aged (I think the one called something like Le Tetois is my favorite, and another called Fort de Pyrenees but I'm not sure I have the name right!).
Rocamadour, too. Don't rule out the pleasures of Comté and Cantal just because they are cooked. They, too, taste much better than in the US. And get a four or five euro bottle of red wine to go with.
I believe Souphie offers the best advice.
Find a good shop (Canton, Barthelemy etc), specify when you want to eat the cheese (this evening, tomorrow etc), give some guidance on type - goat/sheep/cow; hard/soft; fresh/mature and then ask what is good. Then trust their advice. If you simply focus on a type you may not be able to find it in optimum condition and it will be a lesser experience. Go with the good advice of the shop and you will discover great tastes.
French cheese is very seasonal, some cheeses are only made at certain times of the year, others are better at certain times of the year. And of course the shop will have cheeses reaching perfection at different times. Canton, Barthelemy all mature their cheeses in house - if the shop does not - it is likely that it is not a first rate cheese shop.