The Champagne region of France receives an awful lot of praise, which is of course well deserved, for its truly exquisite sparkling wines. As well as this, the medieval appearance of many of the towns and the devotion to sticking to traditional methods of doing things adds to the aura surrounding the area.
One success story that doesn’t seem to get the praise it should (at least in my opinion) is the chaource cheese it produces.
I was first introduced to this unusual (although less so nowadays as I will discuss later) cheese at a fantastic champagne paired dinner evening at the wonderful Mirabelle. While it has become a relationship that has blossomed, I was slightly unsure when I first saw the cheese, as it looks very much like some of the very soft cheeses that need to ‘ripen’ and therefore become a bit too strong for my taste.
After having my first tentative nibble, I realised that the cheese is a deceptive one. Having got the appearance and rind of a soft cheese, the main body is instead a really beautiful chalky style cheese. As someone who is rather fussy about the texture of their food this came as some relief to me as I was able simply to concentrate on the flavour of the beast.
As chaource is not a strong flavoured cheese, it may not be to everyone’s taste. I personally really enjoy the slightly nutty texture of the cheese combined with the slightly acidic aftertaste. This combination puts chaource up there as one of my top cheeses, along with some Yorkshire classics such as Kit Calvert’s Wensleydale and charcoal Cheddar (a real must try for any cheese fan and part of the cheeseboard at 2 Oxford Place.)
As a semi soft cheese made from (normally) unpasteurised milk, this sadly is a cheese my pregnant wife has so far not been able to enjoy. However, I am looking forward to introducing her to it in the near future.
Finally, for those of you wondering (as you should be!) whether it works nicely with champagne, it really does. I would suggest a demi-sec style champagne to really enjoy the acidity of the cheese against the sweetness of the champagne but I would recommend getting a fair bit of the cheese and champagne and working out your own favourite combinations!
Categories: Cooking Experiences