Cremeaux des Citeaux by Rodolphe Le Meunier
A couple months ago, my house guests and I were strolling Big John's market in Healdsburg to select a cheese course. The cheesemonger on duty highly recommended Cremeaux des Citeaux, describing it as a triple creme brie. This was a new one for all of us. While I did arch an eyebrow and commented on how fresh and unripe it looked, she didn't back down and said it would be a great dessert cheese.
This turned out to be a lesson on how one should spend a little more time cultivating a relationship and not take recs from unknown cheesemongers blindly. As feared, the cheese had little character at this stage other than being rich with butterfat and creamy. None of us found much to like about it, and it went home with one guest to see what it might develop into. We would have been happier with a well-ripened piece of St Andre for half the price.
This article by Janet Fletcher doesn't describe any real personality of the cheese either.
Cheese and stone fruit are two things that I rarely buy without tasting. And when I do, I'm usually reminded of why I don't!
This cheese is sold by the round . . . making for a $14 mistake.
So I have learned not to rely on this particular cheesemonger. The store's attraction is the big selection and good prices. The previous buyer always did well by me, but I've not seen him in a few months and bet he's gone. I miss him.
The second incident here was a piece of Cambazola black label that a house guest bought on the way to dinner at my place. I opened it, and found it was ammoniated with dark brown crystals on the side under the label where it was impossible to see. Checking the label, the packing date was more than two weeks earlier, which is much too long for a piece of cheese to be under plastic wrap. Feeling burned earlier by the store, I was determined to take it back for replacement. I brought it to the store cashier who called the cheesemonger up to the front. She looked at the cheese and asked me what was wrong with it. I told her to smell it and look at the label date! She just mumbled, "Some times these get away from us." No apology. I had already picked out a replacement piece that was just a tiny bit larger. They then asked me to pay the 53¢ difference in price. I did, but what I really felt like saying was, "Gosh, I drove 15 miles to your store to make good on your mistake. Here's my invoice for $15 in round trip mileage costs."
In contrast, the one time that I returned a piece to Star Market in Salinas for bad condition, the cheesemonger cut a fresh piece off the wheel that was almost double the size I returned. He also offered a profuse apology.