We all took it easy today, laying around in one form or another. Matthew went into San Francisco for his Dignity service and we ate leftover pulled pork on rolls with roasted red pepper strips and sweet pickles for dinner.
This might be a good time to report on a new, quite decent cheese that Costco is now carrying: Fromager des Clarines. Like brie on mild steroids – and a steal at about $15 for 10 ounces – this is a soft cow’s milk cheese from the French region of Franche-Comté. It’s made by Jean Perrin of Vacherin Mont D’or fame, the raw milk taste explosion that is illegal here because of the dumb-asses who make these kinds of decision. Think about it. There is so much absolute crap sold in the US that passes for food — products that are science experiments, like Cool Whip, and cake frostings with no butter, for example — yet they are worried about raw milk cheeses from European companies whose practices most US outfits can only dream of. Give me a break. Anyway, Fromager des Clarines, which is milder than Vacherin Mont D’or, needs to be eaten very ripe, with the center like custard.
I saw a whole array of ripeness represented in the Costco stock, from white and firm to yellow and collapsed – with and without mold on the rind, I might add. I chose one that was off-white but starting to sink down; normally I get one that’s more far-gone, but I was dealing with guests who might not appreciate it that way. You should choose one that is more questionable looking – more yellow and concave – and smells strong. Don’t be afraid to open up 20 wooden boxes to get the perfect specimen! Eat at room temperature. Let me say this again: Eat at room temperature. If you serve this cold you might as well go buy cheap brie. When warm and ripe, the texture is very smooth and creamy, and the buttery flavor a little acidic with musty tones and other funkiness that is the hallmark of a good cheese. While the impact of this cheese on the palate is more limited than real Vacherin Mont D’or (meaning the original made with raw milk and not the versions produced for the American market, which are made with pasteurized milk), it is full-flavored with a great mouthfeel. Serve with crusty bread – and spoons, if really ripe. I kid you not. You can even heat this in the oven; just follow the instructions on the box.