With the Tour de France in full swing, what better time to enjoy some of the fabulous cheeses which are produced along the route. Ann Arbor, Michigan retailer Morgan and York are doing just that. They’ve set up a fun and flavorful Tour de Fromage, featuring delicious handmade cheeses from the European countryside. The Tour is a celebration of some of the best cheeses from along the race route – which includes France, Spain, Switzerland and Italy.
At the retailer’s web site, you can find a brief description of more than 20 cheeses that are representative of some of the best these countries have to offer. From Parmigiano-Reggiano and Emmental to Fontina and Manchego, proprietors Matthew Morgan and Tommy York have graciously provided us with a few recipes to enjoy these flavorful cheeses.
Following are my picks for enjoying some classic cheeses, along with some that may make you step out of your comfort zone. Taste one, taste them all; enjoy them alone, or with some friends. The world of cheese is a wonderful one, that is easy to discover. Grab yourself a cheese knife, some bread, and embark on your own Tour de Fromage. Who knows where it might take you.
Camembert – This soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese comes with a bloomy rind and a straw colored interior, than has a slightly mushroomy aroma when it is in the pasteurized form (which is the way you’ll find it here in the U.S.)
One of the most famous cheeses from France. Famously enjoyed with baguette bread, it is quite taste with fruits and nuts. Although many say it is best eaten at room temperature, it can be delicious when baked in the oven, To do so, slice a round of Camembert in half (lengthwise) and sprinkle spices, fruits, or even mushrooms, then top with other half and bake until creamy melted texture.
Comte – Hailing from the Jura region, this firm cow’s milk cheese has a nutty and caramelized flavor. A traditional fondue cheese, Comte is also a fun one to enjoy cut in small pieces and enjoyed as an appetizer along with crackers, nuts and fruit. The best grades of Comte have a bell symbol and the word ‘Comte’ stamped on the rind. Similar to Emmental, and Swiss Gruyere.
Fontina D’Aosta – Originating from the Piedmont region in Italy, this classic cow’s milk cheese is semi firm with an inedible brushed rind. It has a subtle texture, earthy herbal flavor and delicate, fruity, perfumed aroma. A great melting cheese when served with ham, salami or pates – or the classic Fonduta Piemontese.
Manchego – This favorite from the La Mancha region of Spain is a firm, sheep’s milk cheese that has a natural, inedible rind. It has a milky, slightly briny, nutty flavor that pairs well with crackers, chorizo, or baguette bread.
Tomme de Savoie – this semi-firm cow’s milk cheese has a distinctive fuzzy, grayish-brown rind. Inside the beige paste is slightly nutty, has a savory flavor, and a mild aroma. The cheese melts in your mouth.
Brillat-Savarin – A triple-crème cheese that has a velvety white rind with a soft, smooth and creamy inside that makes this cheese ideal for dessert. Pair it with peaches, raspberries and strawberries, accompanied by a good bottle of Champagne.