– The ultimate creamy cheese plate. One for the history books! –
I’ve got a confession to make: I’m a promiscuous cheese lover. I indulge constantly, wantonly, with little regard for decorum or consequence. I’ll eat and enjoy soft cheeses, hard cheeses, cheeses with an cantankerous personality, and cheeses that are more tender of sensibility. I don’t really care the cost – I’ll spend a fortune for one good hour of eating pleasure.
But as is usually the case for brazen trollops, a piece of my heart is permanently captivated by one particular cheese, or in this case, a family of cheeses in a well-constructed cheese plate. While I’ll gladly accept a roll in the aging cave with any fine dairy specimen out there, I’ll clear out my calendar without a second thought for my one true love: soft, buttery double- and triple-cream cheeses.
I’m not talking about Brie here, though I’ve known a few intimately in my time; rather, I’m referring to a class of cheeses that are so luxurious that they consume a permanent area of my heart at all times, regardless of my current flavor of the week (or day, or hour). With every other cheese I taste, a little part of me longs for the whipped-mousse texture of Brillat Savarin, Delice d’Argental, or one of the cheeses I’ve listed below for this epically creamy cheese plate.
Despite my licentious adoration of all things dairy, I am a slave to la crème.
Delice des Crémiers
A brine-lovers picnic, Delice des Crèmiers imparts such full-bodied saltiness that you’ll want to have a glass of water handy in case you over indulge – and that’s not difficult with this soft cheese, as you may find it impossible to stop dipping in for bite after bite, reveling in its fluffy creamline that glides back over your palate and doesn’t stop until it reaches the deepest, sweetest regions of your heart. You almost don’t need crackers here, as its yeasty notes invoke visions of crackly, savory puff pastry brushed with cultured butter. The inner paste of younger versions remains soft and supple, but in more ripe examples of Delice des Crèmiers you’ll find a nearly blinding exercise in fatty luxury that resembles a full-cream mousse. I like to allow it to rest on my counter for a few days, lightly wrapped in parchment, so that it’s nearly sliding out of its rind. Then, and only then, will you understanding the meaning of the term “triple cream.”
Fromager d’ Affinois Blue
I say this about a lot of cheeses, but this – this right here – is a beginner’s blue. With barely a hint of blue bite, this cheese is so soft, so creamy, so fluffy, that you’ll almost forget it claims to be a blue at all. But penicilium there is indeed, poking its tongue out at you at the end of every nibble, hinting at a unique funk that permeates your senses while ducking and dodging from view at every turn. Rich, full-bodied, and with a layer of nearly-whipped buttery fat, there’s a saltiness in Fromager d’ Affinois Blue that relaxes its potential pungency and gives it a comfortable place to repose. All in all, it’s a funny little aunt of a cheese, poking you in the ribs one second, squeezing your shoulders in sweet affection the next… but you’ll love her no matter what.
Crèmeux des Cîteaux
The “cheesiest” of the soft cheeses I’ve listed here, Crèmeux des Cîteaux is aged longer than standard triple creams, lending it a subtlety of stinky funk without bowling you over. Besides its decadent saltiness, you’ll find wave of other complimentary flavors as well: mushrooms, earth, sweet grass, and cool climes. While this cheese is certainly soft and creamy, it’s not overtly fatty due to its status as a somewhat matured cheese – sure, it’s rich, but its texture is held together by a hint of gentle effervescent that tempts and teases. Crèmeux des Cîteaux is a cheese lover’s cheese for those who adore a parade of flavor paired with a compelling texture, and a special treat for those of us who dream of creamy cheeses with a little more complexity.
Petit Grès Champenois
This little cake-looking ellipse of dairy love is a recent find, discovered only because I asked my local cheesemonger what new triple creams she had that I might not have tried before. (I can’t stress this enough: engage your cheesemonger, and you will be richly rewarded.) Petit Grès Champenois is lusciously salty, bathing your senses in a layer of savory joy that is hard to find anywhere else. The creamline is plush, gossamer charm, enveloping the soft inner core in a swath of kitten whiskers and baby kisses. In a younger cheese the middle will be a touch pasty with a vaguely firm texture, so I recommend letting your immature la petite fille chillax on your counter for a few days in her cute little wooden tub, at room temperature and falling into a Sleeping-Beauty like rest. Wake her when the top of the cheese begins to dip sleepily inward a half-inch or so, which means the inside has begun to collapse into a vision of warm, whipped butter.
What are your favorite soft cheeses?
Have you ordered Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese yet?
This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.