Welcome to the first of many "Top Three" lists. Today we explore Le Bon Paris' staff's Top Three recommended cheeses to try while in Paris.
Hailing from the Eastern French province of Franche-Comté, Comté (pronounced konté) is by far the most popular cheese in France. It's not surprising then to learn that it is actually the most produced cheese in all of France, at approximately 64,000 tons annually. When you consider that the Eiffel Tower weighs in at 7,300 tons this means that just under 10 Eiffel Towers of Comté cheese are produced in France per year! With this popularity, you know it must be a staple of the French diet. This cow's milk cheese is a hard pressed cheese known for it's sweet and creamy side, but also it's hint of sharpness. It's perfect to eat just as it is, or grated on pasta. While the rind is eatable, we don't recommend it as it is a bit crusty and appetising.
2. Brie de Meaux
While the majority of cheese foodies are most-likely familiar with Brie, one of France's most famous cheeses, not everyone may know about Brie de Meaux. The word "de" in French means "of", so this it is literally Brie from the town of Meaux. Brie in general is only produced in the region of Brie, east of Paris. Brie de Meaux though is a specific kind of Brie only found in the town of Meaux, which is in the region of Brie. Because of this Brie de Meaux has the AOC (protected designation of origin) label which designates this cheese specific to this town. Brie is also a cow's milk cheese, but unlike Comté it is very soft, rich and creamy, and slightly sweet with a savoury finish. This cheese is so delicious it's said that the Emperor Charlemagne himself ordered 2 cart-loads a year! In addition, at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 this cheese was literally named the "King of [French] Cheeses" by Charles-Maurice Talleyrand (Ambassador of France to the UK). So, if you are a Brie fan, we'd encourage you to go the extra savvy mile and see what all the royal fuss is about. While not production is not as high as the Comté, an total of 6,774 tons is produced annually....almost ONE Eiffel Tower!
3. Vieux Gouda
Although technically from the Netherlands originally, Vieux Gouda ("old" Gouda) is now made in many countries, and France being one of them. While visiting a Fromagerie (cheese shop) in Paris we absolutely insist you try this amazing cheese. The name Gouda derives from the town of Gouda, but not because it was originally made there, but because it was originally traded there. In this specific case, Vieux Gouda is simply an aged Gouda cheese, with some ageing almost to 12 months. Ironically though, as this type of cheese dates from the 12th century it is literally one of the oldest cheeses in the world. The result of this ageing makes for a cheese very similar in texture and taste to Parmigiano-Reggiano. Flakey dry, but sharp and sweet at the same time. With this explosion of flavor, we know you won't be able to resist this treasure!