Perail from Fromagerie Papillon: Photo by The House Mouse
Perail hails from the Aveyron region of France, where Roquefort is produced in a region that has a long history of sheep herding. There are many theories of how Perail came to be in existence. Stories range from the bloomy brie-like sheep’s milk wheels being created during low milk production, to shepherds holding back small amounts of milk from the larger Roqufort producers and creating the small pure sheep milk cheese in their homes for their families and neighbors. Whatever the stories and history may be, we are fortunate to have this tasty treat available to snack on now.
Perail at room temp. fully ripened
Perail is a pasteurized sheep’s milk cheese with a thin, bloomy rind and soft, pale paste. When young, the interior is more firm and mild in flavor and the grassy notes are very apparent. Allow it to get a bit more ripe, which is what I did, and the rind collapses a bit, the “sheepy” barnyard flavors intensify, and the grassy, buttery, and sweet flavors come alive. Pair Perail with a light white or sparkling bubbly wine or perhaps a crisp hard cider.
When I found out I would be taking my first trip to Paris, I was excited and a bit nervous. Sure, there would be all the amazing cheese, bread, pastries, and chocolates to try, but Paris is big. REALLY big. For someone with crowd issues (which I have) this can be a terrifying experience. I talked with a few of my francophile friends and they assured me that, unlike New York or Chicago where the streets are jam-packed with people all the time, Paris feels busy, but not suffocating. This was a good thing since I enjoy exploring new places. Once I settled into my hotel, I set off with my list of fromageries from cheese connoisseur Susan Sturman, Rick Steve’s Paris 2014 guidebook & Streetwise Paris map in hand, and immediately got lost. Seriously. This was actually a good thing since my getting lost lead me to my first fromagerie, Cheese.
Disney’s Pixar Ratatouille
That’s right! The House Mouse is heading to Paris to taste the delectable fromage of France (and see the sights, of course.) I’ve packed my copy of “The Whole Fromage” by Kathe Lison and my list of suggested cheese shops, courtesy of Susan Sturman, Director Anglophone Programs for Academie Opus Caseus (the cheese industry’s unique hands-on center for professional development), I almost feel ready to go.
Charles de Gaulle is famously rumored to have said “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”, yet according to The Cheese Times, there are upwards of 629 different cheese types in France. There is no way this little mouse will be able to nibble through even a fraction of those fromages in just a few days. While I love a good Banon, Brie and Camembert, I think it would be wise to seek out the cheeses which are unavailable to us Americans; especially some raw milk selections.
Stay tuned for photos from Paris and feel free to send along any suggestions of French cheese for The Mouse to seek out!
Au Revoir for now and Restez au Fromage!
Me with a busted arm when I was 10, but you get the point.
This has probably been the hardest post I have ever written since I began writing The House Mouse back in 2009. All the starts and stops, the interruptions and scrapped drafts, the frustrations and not knowing what to say have nearly driven me mad. I mean, I started this post back in May! I finally decided to just stop dancing around and come clean about why I’ve been so silent. This is really hard to say…
I, The House Mouse, am having a hard time eating cheese. Just writing the words makes me so sad and sick to my stomach both literally and figuratively! I have rebelled against my body for so long and it finally caught up with me in pretty dramatic form. Continue reading
Looking for an all-around accessible treat for your cheese board? Green Hill from Sweet Grass Dairy should be right in your wheelhouse. Cheesemakers Al and Desiree Wehner of Thomasville, Georgia use a New Zealand-style Intense Rotational Grazing method with their cows (the process of moving cows from pasture to pasture over a 24-hour time period), which ensures fresh green grass and happier cows. The resulting 2007 American Cheese Society winner offers a rich, earthy, grassy, buttery flavor and a soft, silky texture. A white, bloomy rind surrounds a bright yellow center caused by the high butterfat, also a result of their grazing practices.
Green Hill is a young cheese, pasteurized and aged about three to six weeks – it has the look of a Brie or Camembert, but that’s where the similarity ends. The mild yet complex taste of this cheese is a complete crowd pleaser. Even those who say they aren’t fans of Brie and Camembert will be pleasantly surprised when they fall in love with Green Hill. Pair it with some apricot compote for a sweet-tart tasty treat and a bright Chardonnay to cut through the richness.
Available year round at most better cheese shops.
The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein
My parents were – and still are – voracious readers, and they encouraged my sister and I to do the same as much as possible. While my sister read on occasion, I would get lost in a bookstore for hours, curl up on the giant square pillows the local shop had strewn all over the children’s section and just sink into a pile of books. My mom volunteered at our school library sometimes and was always hip to the latest trend and bestselling authors, so she would offer suggestions all the time. My dad was not as in touch with the adolescent brain so he would pick titles that appealed to him or chose covers that looked cool and distinct. Continue reading
Half eaten Rush Creek Reserve in front of a full wheel of Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Taken at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, MI.
It’s a busy night per usual at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, MI and I am having my first taste of the highly sought after Rush Creek Reserve, the new soft rind cheese from the makers of the award-winning Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Carlos, the cheese monger, has a wheel hidden behind the counter and hands me a tiny plastic spoonful of the pale yellow paste. Soft and creamy with a tiny hint of mushroom, bold and beefy yet still delicate on the tongue, this bloomy raw-milk cheese seems to have it all. So why is this gooey goodness being hidden behind the counter? Demand for this cheese has been so high that Zingerman’s only has this one sample and the wheel I am taking home on hand. They are expecting delivery of a few more wheels next weekend, but how many is unknown.
I am not only here for the cheese, but to meet the innovative cheese maker who created it: Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese Company of Dodgeville, Wisconsin. Andy is a quiet, unassuming guy with a friendly smile and looks more like college student than a master cheese maker. We sit down at an outside table to talk about his latest cheese creation. Continue reading
When thinking about Ohio, specifically Portage County, cheese is not the first thing that comes to mind. Lush green pastures of the various farms, quaint small towns that appear frozen in time, and narrow dirt roads leading to who-knows-where dot this beautiful countryside. Yet dotted throughout the county are artisans yielding their craft and producing fresh, sweet, and often surprising goat’s milk cheese beyond compare. One such artisan is Jean Mackenzie, founder and President of Mackenzie Creamery in Hiram, Ohio. Continue reading