Wednesday, 14 March 2012


A wonderfully saggy, slumpy cheese this, cheesy cream oozing out at the bottom. It looks as if it has got tired and just given up on life.

But as the guy on the cheese stall told us, it's 'un fromage de caractere'. It combines a sweet creamy honey flavour with the smell of silage or manure; shocking.

I think any relationship with this cheese is a love-hate relationship. In this, it's a little like a really good old Belgian gueuze or red ale - you take a mouthful of Rodenbach or Boon or Duchesse de Bourgogne and for a moment your tongue tells you it's just vinegar, and you ask yourself whether beer is really meant to be like this, before the other flavours catch up and you realise you're drinking a classic. Duchesse is one of my favourite beers in the world and yet I still have that little moment of doubt, every time.

Love-hate. Not just love it or hate it, though no doubt some people will hate it, but love and hate; or at least, love coupled with a fearful respect.

Technically, it's a cheese neither pressed nor cooked, and with no rind, hence the marvellous slumpiness - the inside is chalky, the exterior actually verging on the liquid, at room temperature. It's from Burgundy, which has 'previous' for 'characterful' cheeses, in the form of Epoisses. And I'm told it's a traditional cheese that is on its last legs, as most local farmers now can't be bothered to make it, and sell their cheeses to industrial fromageries instead; which may be why a couple of web sites I've looked at mention Saint Florentin as being creamy, light, and suitable for desserts, which the cheese I have in front of me right now certainly is not.

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