Learn to Love French Cheese on National Cheese Lovers Day!
It’s National Cheese Lovers Day and most people won’t hesitate in saying they love cheese, too. Who doesn’t? But what kind of cheese? For most Filipinos, that means pasteurized processed cheese bought at the supermarket, easy to melt and long-lasting in the refrigerator. Nothing wrong with that. But for those willing to explore beyond our favorite queso de bola and cheddar, look no further than France for its extraordinary diversity and cheesemaking heritage. France produces around 1,500 cheese varieties, encompassing different styles and types of milk. Among those are 45 of its most treasured cheeses protected under the domination of origin (PDO) appellation. The Oxford Companion to Cheese says it best when it describes French cheese thus: “French cheeses are the fruits of their terroir, emerging from the confluence of local weather, soil, geography, and human inventiveness—plus the social organization required today to protect and valorize culinary custom and local biodiversity.”
With all that, there’s one place in town that luckily allows us a taste of this incredible cheese heritage. Sommelier Selection is already well known among wine aficionados for its well curated collection of over 300 different wines from 120 European appellations, with 100 European grape varieties from 60 estates. But did you know that it also carries, through its Chef Selection brand, a selection of the finest French butters and cheeses?
For those interested in learning about French cheeses, Chef Selection is the place to visit for its range of “affineur” cheeses, all under the PDO appellation. An affineur is someone who selects cheeses and refines them in his cellar, to deliver to consumers only at their peak ripeness. To taste an affineur cheese is an experience to savor.
Sommelier Selection has been focused on educating buyers about their cheeses. A series of wine and cheese nights held at some of the best dining establishments in the city have become popular. Their lineup of cheeses is indeed unique and impressive, and includes some very rare cheeses, for example, Camembert de Normandie which has been called one of the “crown jewels of French gastronomy.” Some distinctive cheeses on the shelves are the rare, blue-veined Roche Auche Montagne; the Roche Monte Nantaïs, a fresh milk cheese brushed regularly with salt water till it’s soft and exudes the delicate scent of fresh milk; the strong, nutty Brun de Noix washed with walnut liquor; and the Nénuphar made from raw cow’s milk and coated in dried tarragon flakes. Their cheeses always vary depending on what’s being shipped, so it’s worthwhile to visit often to see what they have that’s new and noteworthy. And with their limited shelf life, these cheeses are meant to enjoyed right away, with a glass of French wine, of course.
Sommelier, Selection Ground Floor, Building 3, Jannov Plaza, 2295 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City Tel. (02) 840-4211 Photographs by Jar Concengco