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!
Anthony Bourdain arguably has one of the best jobs on earth. He travels the globe, tastes indigenous cuisine, and is given access to places most of us can only dream of seeing. Bourdain’s job is not for the faint of heart or stomach, and his excursions can sometimes be downright dangerous (see No Reservations, Beirut 2006 , for example) but for the most part, Bourdain is rewarded with fantastic local fare and envy-inspiring experiences. This would be the case on his recent visit to France when Bourdain and fellow chef, Erik Ripert, dropped in at Marie-Anne Cantin, one of Paris’s most renowned cheese shops. Continue reading
It’s that time of year, New Yorkers! The Stinky Cheese Festival is in full funk so get out there and smell the cheesy goodness! The Tour de France NYC restaurant group, nine of the Big Apple’s finest eateries, has put aside the mild and is showing off the wild that the cheese the French have to offer. Twenty of the funkiest fromages of France will be incorporated into specialty menus from now until February 25th. The Mouse wishes we could be there to take in the sweet and stinky pleasures of Raclette, Stilton, Epoisses, and Gorgonzola. Any House Mouse fans who find themselves in New York and attend this event, please keep in touch and let us know the faves and the just plain funky.
Image: Picnics Fine Foods
Since I am not a chef (or even decent cook, for that matter) my contribution to the holiday festivities is that I always bring the cheese board. While this may seem like a cop-out of a task, it’s not easy finding complimentary cheeses that will please all palates. Milk types, pate color and flavor intensity all come into play when making selections.
This Independence Day, I went with a fully represented board of the four top milk choices: cow, sheep, goat, and even buffalo. While all the selections were hits, the goat’s milk La Clochette was the clear winner of the bunch. Continue reading
Soft, spicy, and sultry are what comes to mind when taking a bite of Fleur du Maquis (oh, and Dan the cheesemonger isn’t too bad either).
Whether it goes by Brin D’Amour (breath of love) or Fleur du Maquis (flower of the Maquis) this ewe’s milk cheese has something for every cheese lover. Continue reading
Over the last few years I have come to love and appreciate goat’s milk cheese. From the nutty freshness of Garrotxa to the complex and beautiful Valencay. There are so many varieties of cheese made with goat’s milk and more coming to market all the time, I have no illusions of being able to taste them all. One type has become one of my favorites. Continue reading
Someday I hope to eat my way through all the delicious and diverse cheeses of France. Preferably I will do this in France, but for now I must settle for my local cheesemongers to guide me. I am lucky to have several experienced mongers and the ones at Morgan and York in Ann Arbor, Michigan are some of the best.
On my most recent visit I had a chance to sample Saint Felicien, a soft subtle cheese from the Rhône-Alpes region (also known as caille-doux) and was pleasantly surprised.
Presented in a stone crock with a pale yellow rind, Saint Felicien hides a nutty, pillowy, slightly pungent flavor that is not normally found in a raw cow’s milk cheese. Best served with berries and sweet nuts. Avoid citrus and sour fruits (I made the mistake of tasting with Granny Smith apples. Trust me, just say no!)
I have heard this cheese is similar to Saint Marcellin however I have yet to taste it and cannot say for sure. It is on the French cheese tour so I am sure I will get to it soon. In the meantime, I have a little crock of goodness to satisfy me…for about five more minutes when it will be all gone! Bon Appetit!