produces almost 400 different varieties of cheese, each
one is as distinctive as a finger print. This wide
selection — more than any other country has to offer —
includes cheeses made from cow’s, ewe’s or goat’s milk,
or in combination. Each region has its specialty —
Normandy, France’s kingdom of milk and cream, is famous
for unctuous Camembert and Pont l’Ev que; the Loire
Valley and Provence for the tangy goat’s milk cheeses;
Alsace for robust Munster; the Alpine region for firmer,
subtly-flavored cheeses, such as Reblochon and Beaumont;
the Paris area for the world’s most prestigious cheese,
Brie — even from the Pyr n es comes Chiberta, firm,
slightly nutty- flavored, a specialty of which the hardy
Basque people are proud.
Each region’s specialty is made according to tradition
which has existed for centuries. The professional
cheese- maker learns his craft as painstakingly as an
attorney the law. France’s reputation for being a
paradise for cheese lovers is well-deserved. Today,
Americans are fortunate because they need no longer be
on the original spot to relish their favorites — they
can readily find them at local cheese retailers. . .
almost 100 different varieties. Store such as Whole
Foods Markets have great selections.
You may enter Good Cooking's Cheese Shop and purchase
any one of 60 plus French Cheeses from the French Cheese
Here is just one of the 66 French Cheeses you can
Cantal is one of the oldest French Cheeses, predating
both Roquefort (11th Century) and Livarot (13th
Double and triple creme
cheeses, what Americans call
cream cheese is a very distant relative to these rich,
creamy, fresh cheeses from France. They vary in texture
from thick, heavy sour or fresh cream, to semi-firm
cream. All are delicate with a refreshing tang. Many
varieties are blended with a mixture of herbs and garlic
or spices, such as pepper.
Double and triple creme cheeses:
According to French law these cheeses are classified
when they contain a minimum of 60 per cent
butter fat (rnati re grasse) per gram, and triple creme
when they contain a minimum of 75 per cent butter fat
These cremes are delightful at any time of day, for any
menu or snack. Simply spread on crusty French bread, per
haps serve with fresh fruits in season (not citrus).
Fruity wines are ideal to accompany these cheeses,
particularly ros . Many Americans enjoy the herbed or
peppered versions of these cheeses at the cocktail hour.
Among the cremes available are:
Bell toile _ A soft-ripened triple creme, with no
rind, it is easily spreadable. It comes as 5-oz. round,
plain or herb-flavored.
Boursault _ Another triple creme, soft-ripened cheese
available in an 8-oz. round. This cheese is very creamy
almost like a mixture of Brie and heavy cream.
Boursin _ A fresh cow’s milk, double creme, white with an
edible crust. It has a tangy flavor and is available
with herbs or pepper.
Brillat-Savarin _ From Normandy, this triple creme
a thick, plump, white disk, with a buttery texture and
Excelsior _ Similar to Boursin and Boursault, without
spices or herbs. Contains 72 percent butter fat and
comes in an 8-oz. cylinder.
Fromage de Monsieur Fromage _ A small round, double
creme, first made in Normandy about 75 years ago.
Gervais _ Usually packaged in squares or rectangles.
Its texture is similar to that of American-type cream
cheese, but its flavor is richer and slightly tangy.
La Bouille _ This rich, triple creme
is not flavored,
but has its own special tang. The 1 l-oz. round is
available in a wood-chip basket.
La Bourse _ This is a triple creme
, flavored with
herbs and garlic. It is round and available either in
2’/2- oz. or 5-oz. portions.
Margotin _ This creme
is a mixture of cow’s and
goat’s milk, which makes it a less fatty, drier cheese.
It is either flavored with herbs or with pepper.
Petit Suisse _ One of France’s most popular double
cremes, this cheese may contain from 60 to 75 per cent
butter fat. Available in l-oz. plastic cups.
Provencal _ Another triple creme
, available as a
5-oz. round cheese in a cardboard box. It is flavored
either with herbs and garlic or with pepper.
Tartare _ This fresh, very creamy triple creme
only available flavored with herbs and garlic.
These exquisite cheeses are the result of French
cheese-making genius. They are known as soft paste
cheeses, usually having a white powdery crust which,
when ripened, is tinged reddish brown and the center is
soft to the touch. Inside, the cheese is golden yellow,
creamy, buttery smooth and “runny”. Once the crust is
cut, the cheese ceases to ripen.
As with all French cheeses, this type must be served at
room temperature. Again serve them with crusty French
bread, apples, grapes, peaches or pears, and for most of
them a light to medium French red wine makes an ideal
Bibress _ A cylinder-shaped creamy cheese with a
flavor similar to a mild blue cheese.
Brie _ The “King” of soft-ripened cheeses. Its
powdery, white edible crust becomes tinged reddish brown
when the cheese is fully ripened. As with each of this
type of cheese, it reaches its peak at room temperature.
Brie de Meaux _ One of the original, authentic Brie
cheeses, named after the city in which it is made.
Brie de Melun _ Another authentic variety of this
famous cheese, also named after the city where it is
Bache Lorraine _ Similar to Brie in texture and
flavor, is available in the shape of a log.
Cambree _ This newcomer is a combination of Brie and
Camembert, with 50 percent butter fat. It comes in a
rectangular loaf which weighs six pounds.
Camembert _ One of France’s most popular cheeses of
this variety, known and admired throughout the world.
Available in an 8-oz. round, it is an original specialty
of the province of Normandy.
Caprice des Dieux _ An oval-shaped cheese, slightly
creamier than Camembert with an edible crust.
Carre de l’Est _ A square-shaped cheese, similar in
flavor to Brie, but milder. As with most of this
variety, the crust is edible.
Chaource _ A specialty of Champagne country, this
cheese is creamy, plump and round in shape. Its white
crust is edible.
Coulommiers _ Made in the same region as Brie, it is
smaller in size, plumper than its cousin, but similar in
flavor and texture.
Fol Amour _ An oval-shaped cheese, made in the north of
France, and similar to Brie in flavor and texture.
St. Benoit _ A specialty of the area of Orleans, it
is made from skimmed cow’s milk and is in the shape of a
small, thick disk. Inside it is ivory-colored and very
Valdieue _ This cheese is a close cousin to Carr de
l'Est, in shape, size and flavor.
Valmeuse _ This is again in the Brie family, but it
contains a special stabilizer to retard ammoniation.
These are cheeses which are semi-firm to the touch, with
a smooth, buttery texture inside that yields on finger
pressure, or when cut with a knife. They are mild in
flavor with a clean, fresh tang to them that varies in
strength depending on the age. Because they slice easily
(especially when the knife blade has been dipped in very
they have good melting qualities and are often used in
cooking. But they are excellent as well for snacks,
dessert courses with bread and fruit and a modest French
red wine. Most semi-soft cheeses have an inedible crust.
Babybeh _ Made from cow’s milk, this cheese is firm
in texture and retains its freshness because it is
enveloped in a red parrafin wrapper. It has a slightly
Bonbel _ Also made from cow’s milk, this is firm in
texture and has a yellow paraffin wrapper. Slightly
larger than its cousin, is Babybel, this cheese, too is
slightly nutty in flavor.
Chiberta _ A specialty of the Basque country, in the
south of France, this cheese is made from cow’s milk, is
ivory-colored on the inside with tiny holes. It is avail
able in a four-pound round and has a dark orange
Livarot _ A famous specialty of the province of
Normandy, this is a round cheese with a strong and
Edam Francais _ Rich orange in color with a red rind
and a distinct nutty flavor.
Munster _ From the province of Alsace, this cheese
has a strong aroma but is milder in taste. Square-shaped
and rather orangey in color, it is sometimes flavored
with cumin or caraway.
Pont l’Eveque _ Again a Norman specialty, the name
of the cheese means Bishop’s Bridge. It is square shaped
with impressions on its usually edible rind which result
from the straw on which it is ripened.
Port Salut _ Originated by the Trappist monks in
their Monastery of Port-du-Salut
Entrammes _ This popular cheese comes in a four-pound
round with an inedible orange rind. It slices readily
and is ideal in recipes.
Reblochon _ Made in the French Alps, the name
derives from the term for the second-milking of the day,
the cow’s milk, which is used to make this cheese. A
small, flat disk, it is mild in flavor.
Royaldieue _ Similar in texture and body to Port
Salut but has a higher butter fat content. The crust is
St. Nectaire _ Again, a cousin to Port Salut but its
inedible crust is darkish brown.
St. Paulin _ Another look-alike to Port Salut, in
shape and flavor, but it does not have an orange crust.
This cheese is also a creation of the Trappist monks.
Goat's Milk Cheeses---Chevres:
These cheeses are much prized by connoisseurs and almost
every region of France has its own special goat’s milk
cheese. They are found in many sizes and shapes, such as
3- to 8-inch round patties, log-shaped, drum-shaped,
pyramids, rounds, loaves, etc. Textures vary from soft,
but firm, somewhat like cream cheese, to extremely hard.
Chevres make excellent dessert cheeses, served with
bread and fruit. The French wines recommended to drink
with these unique cheeses are modest white wines or
Banon _ A round flat disk in small and large sizes,
this cheese is a specialty of
Provence _ It is wrapped in chest nut leaves and tied
Capricette _ This is a fresh goat cheese, with a low
fat content and a delightful tangy flavor. Available in
4-oz. plastic cups.
Chabichou _ Small cone-shaped, soft goat cheese,
which is ideal for dessert. It is made in the Poitou
region, and its flavor varies from fruity to sharp
depending on its age.
Chevre au Poivre aux Herbes _ These patty-shaped
cheeses are sprinkled with pepper, fennel and rosemary.
All are excellent as hors d’oeuvre.
Chevrotin _ A popular cheese of this variety. It has
a fat content of 45 per cent, mild aroma, with a creamy
texture and nutty flavor.
Montrachet _ This is made in the province of
Burgundy, and always comes in the shape of a log. Mild
and creamy in flavor with a rind that may or may not be
dusted with vine wood ash. Good keeping quality.
Pyramide _ Sometimes called Valen ay, this is, as
its name implies a pyramid-shaped cheese. It has a mild
nutty flavor and also its edible rind may or may not be
dusted with wood ash.
St. Marcellin _ Originally this cheese, from the Is re
Valley, was made strictly from goat’s milk. Today, it is
more often a combination of cow and goat. It is a soft
round disk, with a mild slightly acid flavor.
Sainte Maure _ A soft-ripened goat cheese,
log-shaped, with a thin edible crust and a mild flavor
which becomes more pronounced as it ages. It is
sometimes called Tonnelets.
These cheeses have a blue vein marbling mostly developed
by natural fermentation processes, sometimes by
inoculation to start or hasten ripening, and maturing.
The term persill , which is often applied to these
cheeses, has nothing to do with parsley. Rather it
refers to the blue- green veining which resembles
parsley. These cheeses have a tangy flavor, some more
than others, are usually semi-soft, often crumbly,
especially when cold. Natural blue cheeses are produced
in many areas of France and are named after their region
Most blue-veined cheeses are marvelous with fruit,
crusty bread or unsalted crackers, either for snacks,
hors d’oeuvre or as a dessert course. Their robust
flavor calls for a full-bodied French red wine. In the
U.S. these cheeses are widely used in salads and salad
Bleu d’Auvergne _ From the mountains of the rustic
region of the Auvergne, this cheese is made from cow’s
milk. It has a rich, sharp flavor.
Bleu de Bresse _ Also made from cow’s milk in the
region of Bresse, this cheese is available either in
cylinders or long loaves. It has a mild-ish flavor for
this type of cheese.
Pipo Creme _ This cheese, available in six-pound
rolls, has a very distinct flavor, slices easily as it
does not crumble. The thin crust is edible.
The “King” of cheeses as it is known throughout the
world. Made exclusively from ewe’s milk in the south of
France and aged and ripened in the limestone caves of
the small village of Roquefort. It is unique unlike
any other cheese in flavor and texture. Authentic
Roquefort can be easily identified by the red sheep
emblem on the label.
Firm Texture Cheeses:
These cheeses are used very often in gratin dishes, as
an ingredient in many recipes, and are very popular in
sandwiches, or as snacks. Usually they have many “eyes”,
the size of which is helpful in identifying the various
Beaumont _ A specialty of the Savoie region of
France, this cheese has a distinct nutty flavor. It has
a tannish crust which is not edible. Inside, the ivory
colored cheese has many tiny “eyes” arranged close
Comte _ A product of the Jura region, it is similar
to Emmental, but has smaller and fewer eyes about the
size of cherries. It comes in large, fiat wheels which
may weigh as much as 75 pounds. (In France Gruyere is
the generic term for this cheese.)
Emmental Francais _ Identified by its eyes which are
relatively large. This cheese has a nut-like tang that
adds zest to such dishes as quiches, fondues and sauces.
Mimolette _ Made in the north of France from cow’s
milk, it is about the size and shape of Edam. In texture
and flavor, however, it is more similar to cheddar. Out
side it is orange and inside a bright yellow.
Tomme des Pyrenees _ A cheese from France’s Basque
country, it is a large round cow’s milk cheese, with an
inedible black rind.
Tomme de Savoie _ From the Alpine region, this cheese
is made from cow’s milk and has a low fat content. It is
firm, subtly flavored and comes in a flat, round disk
which weighs about four to six pounds.
Cantal _ A native of the Auvergne region, this is one
of France’s oldest and most famous cheeses. Has a
piquant flavor but its hard crust is not edible. It is
low in fat and high in protein making it an excellent
choice for dieters. Fine for cooking or as a simple
table cheese with bread and red wine. A wheel may weigh
as much as 100 pounds.
Most of France’s process cheeses are a blend with a
creme de Gruyere as as base. They may have a firm, heavy
texture, or may be soft, smooth and spreadable.
Beau Pasteur _ This cheese has a mild, distinct
flavor, a creamy buttery texture and no crust. It is
available in a three-pound round.
Fondu au Raisin _ A semi-soft cheese with a
distinctive grape flavor imparted by its rind (inedible)
of grape seeds, called “marc” the remains from the
Gourmandise _ Similar to Beau Pasteur with either a
cherry or walnut flavor. A party and dessert favorite.
La Grappe _ Another name for the cheese called Fondu
La Vache Qui Rit
_ Which means “laughing cow”, a
picture of which appears on the label. This has become
an American favorite. It is available in cocktail-size
pieces or in packages of individual wedge-shaped
Nec Plus Ultra _ Similar in texture and quality to
Gourmandise. It is served in the same manner, and also
is available in cherry or walnut flavors.
Six de Savoie
La Vache Qui Rit _ Similar to La Vache Qui Rit, it is pack
aged in small triangular wedges.
Tomme au Marc _ Same as Fondu au Raisin.
From Foods of France