I was asked what are the top 5 French cheese by some friends and, as you can imagine, it would be the same as picking up the top 5 Hamburgers or the top 5 pizzas, this is utterly subjective and with 2000 cheese to pick from it would be nigh to impossible to agree on them, so let’s cut it short and let me tell you of my top 5 French cheese and why I picked them.
First of all, one should know that cheese are eaten accordingly to one’s mood, so depending on it you will pick the one you need, this is also why French fridges have at any given time 4 or 5 cheese at the ready, but it doesn’t mean that we will have all 5 of them at one time.
So, number 1, “Comté”, cow milk, hard cheese from the Alps region going from short maturation (9 month a bare minimum) to long one (max 36 months), similar techniques to Cheddar cheese. I love it because it’s versatile, picking an 18 months aged Comté means that I will have two flavours, the heart of it will still be fairly fruity and soft while closer to the rind it will get in strength, bitterness and saltiness. Just on its own. The “Nothing can go wrong cheese” by excellence
Price is weight based but a slice would be around 8€ to 10€
Secondly I would pick up a blue cheese, not necessarily a “Roquefort” but may be more a “Fourme D’ambert”, cow milk and therefore not as strong and salty as the sheep milk of the “Roquefort”, I will enjoy the saltiness on a walnut for the bitterness and the smokiness while taking a sip of a sweet white wine to release a salty/bitter/sweet firework on my taste buds.
Price is weight based but a slice would be around 2€ to 3€
Thirdly a Vieux Lille, a washed rind cow milk cheese in the family of the English’s “Stinking Bishop” and “Maroilles” from northern France, I will enjoy it cut in cubes in a salad (chicory, beetroot, bacon) and chestnut oil dressing. Warning !! Do not eat it on a romantic date, ever…!!
Price per piece is 10€ and can usually be purchased whole, half and sometimes quarter.
In fourth position, it would be the “Petit Cabrion”, tiny dry goat cheese that have a fantastic balance between saltiness and a metallic tanginess that turns them literally into cheese bonbon, they make a perfect couple with dry fruits such as mango, pineapple or red berries and I would enjoy it with a dry white wine from the Loire Valley (Sauvignon or Vouvray).
Price per piece is 1.6€
Last but not least, the Sinner’s sin, a straight ticket to Hell but only available in the right season, the “Mont D’Or”, similar in shape to the camembert but thrice thicker, you make a cut in the upper rind, chuck in a clove of garlic cut in three and a small glass of white wine, put it in the oven for 25 minutes and once ready you enjoy it with a spoon or sticks of bread, warm potatoes, in family or alone, an Alsace wine or Jura white will go nicely with it (use the same you used for the cooking)
Price depends on size, regular is 14€ suits a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children) large is 19€ and is enough for 6 adults