Little Miss Muffet and a lesson in cheese

Bourgogne, Les grangeots, Sainte-Colombe, Côte...
Bourgogne, Les grangeots, Sainte-Colombe, Côte-d’Or (Photo credit: Toprural)

I grew up in an Asian household, the only cheese I really knew was what the fine people at the Kraft Cheese company called “Brick” cheese, a very mild and waxy cheese that didn’t have much flavour.  My mom explained cheese by way of a nursery rhyme – “Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey.”

We were eating the curds part.  Can’t say that I knew anyone who ever ate whey, but I was six – what did it matter, I was more worried about the spider.  I learned to love cheese from many people over the years and now I find myself always looking for the next tasty cheese to add to my list. My weakness for dessert is second only to my addiction to cheese. There is nothing more dangerous for me than to walk by cheese stalls and boutiques at the market with a few dollars in my pocket.

I recently discovered a triple crème cheese called Chateau de Bourgogne from of course, Bourgogne in France.  A triple crème has more than 75% butterfat in its dry matter, that is, roughly 40% fat overall, similar to the fat content of extra-heavy   liquid cream. (Wikipedia) With more calories than your average dessert, Chateau de Bourgogne is a velvety, buttery cheese that starts to melt as soon as you take it out from the refrigerator.

Chateau de Bourgogne

I buy this cheese when I want to celebrate or just spoil myself with something decadent.  If your local cheese monger doesn’t have this one, Brillat-Savarin cheese, named for the famous French epicure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, is similar and equally rich.

Mimolette

Mimolette is a kind of blow your mind, sharp cheese.  Shaped like a cantaloupe the most aged, extra-vieille, breaks apart very easily.  Deserving to be put on only the finest  cracker, you can eat it at different stages, but I prefer the extra old.  It’s an investment, quite expensive at $33.00 lbs USD.  It was made as a replacement for Edam by the French.  Extra old gouda is somewhat similar in taste and less expensive but Mimolette is worth the experience.

A wonderful triple-creme blue is Montagnolo Blue Cheese from Bavaria, another rich, creamy and zesty cheese. Montagnolo Blue is dotted with blue veins but milder and not crumbly like Roquefort. Voluptuous and spreadable it’s great on a slice of fresh baguette and paired with Pinot Gris or a semi-dry sparkling wine.

Artisan cheeses are now very popular as well, with many of these coming from the province of  Quebec.  Le Migneron de Charlevoix is made in the Baie St. Paul region and was introduced in the 90’s.  It is made in the Dufour dairy and ripened in caves.  Mild with a slight nutty and creamy flavour, it is a lovely finish to a meal, it can be paired with a  Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Noir.

(Front) Migneron de Charlevoix (Back) Montagnolo Blue Cheese

Grocery stores now carry lots of choices of locally made and artisan cheeses, my only concern with buying cheese here is freshness. Also, although the names are quite regal and romantic, I like to know what it taste like before I make the financial investment.  Cheese can be expensive.  I love talking to cheese mongers to learn about cheeses from different regions and countries.  They are great resources for giving recommendations and substitutions for expensive cheeses.  Another great thing about cheese boutiques is asking for samples!

Here are a few of my favourite places to buy cheese in and around Toronto.

Scheffler’s Delicatessen & Cheese
Cheese Boutique
Alex Farm Products – 93 Front St. E. (at Jarvis St.), St. Lawrence Market South and several other locations across Toronto

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