My cheese of the week likely needs no introduction, but just in case the name doesn’t ring a bell I will mention that its namesake is none other than Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, perhaps one of history’s most influential foodies. (Okay, “epicures,” if you prefer.) A French lawyer who fled to the United States during the Revolution, he penned “The Physiology of Taste” in 1825 which contained the words that have most recently become the sustainable food movement’s rallying cry: “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” 

Brillat-Savarin is also credited with being one of the first low-carb dieters, so one assumes he would be honored to have a protein-rich, creamy French cheese named in his honor. Brillat-Savarin the cheese is a pasteurized cows-milk triple-creme brie-style specimen produced in Normandy. It is decadent indeed, delightfully creamy, with a bloomy natural rind. It is a touch more sour than your typical brie, with that subtle tang you’d find in the white parts of a bleu cheese. Best eaten with a spoon, or slathered over a nice fruit-studded bread. It is an ideal partner for a nice glass of French champagne*, if you’re so inclined.

*Speaking of celebrations, we’ve noted elsewhere but neglected to mention here the official cease-fire in the Roquefort wars. Americans can continue to enjoy Roquefort, Iberico ham and Pellegrino for the foreseeable future. Vive le Roquefort!

Putting thoughts of the French countryside aside for now, I had the “rainy day blues” when I stopped into the cheesemonger to pick a cheese for this week. I chose the Crater Lake Blue from Oregon’s famed Rogue Creamery, one I usually overlook in favor of Rogue’s Smokey Blue, a personal favorite.

Crater Lake Blue is made from raw cows’ milk, and like a certain other blue cheese from abroad, is sharp, salty and tangy. Its bite was a little firmer than the Roquefort, but as far as taste I’d have to say this is the closest I’ve tasted yet from a domestic rival.*

The deeply blue-green veining of this cheese provides a lovely contrast to some fresh spring cheeses on a seasonal cheese board. Crater Lake Blue stays fairly firm as it comes to room temperature, so makes a fine snack with some of last year’s last pears. Or, melt a pat on top of a (local, grass-fed) steak for a decadent Sunday night treat. You can’t go wrong.

(*Speaking of which, we’ve been remiss in noting that the looming Roquefort tariff was postponed one month, until April 23. We’re watching anxiously to see if a peace accord was struck in the off-the-record chats of President Obama’s European tour.)

Wow, were we impressed with the poetic talents of our loyal and new readers! Thanks to all of you for entering our “Ode to Roqeufort” cheesy love poem contest. With no further ado, we are pleased to announce our winners:

3 – In third place, was MNCruncher‘s  emotional “O’ Roquefort, how I loathe thee for thy haunting beauty…”

2 – In second place, the laudatory “Ode to Roquefort” by DanG.

1 – And for the rather unconventional Roquefort rap, we award the first-place “Free Roquefort!” t-shirt to Cool Dude for the following:

Yo son, get on your salt tang
Get the hook up with this cheesy blue thang
France’s second most popular cheese
Go and get it for me please
It’s the roq to the fort
Enjoy it with some port
It won’t make you snort

We also have to extend an honorable mention to ohcassis for the bold, anti-Roquefort entry in our contest. We believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions on cheeses, after all. Be sure to read all the entries, if you haven’t yet.

Our second and third-place finishers will be receiving a stylish “Free Roquefort!” mini-button to help spread the word about the plight of our beloved cheese.  (Winners, please send your mailing address to dccheese at foodietots dot com to claim your prize!)

free roquefort button“Roses are red,

Roquefort is blue…”

Alright, cheese aficianados. You’ve signed the petition, you’ve stocked up on Roquefort while you can, what’s left but to enjoy it in every conceivable way until it’s yanked from our shores on March 23? Why not profess your love for the stinky French blue to the world, and submit your best sonnet, rhyme or haiku for the Cheese & Champagne “Ode to Roquefort” Valentine’s Poetry Contest!

Share your best cheesy lines in the comments below, before midnight Sunday, February 15. We’ll select our favorite on Monday … and ship the lucky Poet Roquefort a first edition C&C “Free Roquefort!” t-shirt!

Give us your cheesiest lines, rhymed or otherwise!

As our fellow cheese lovers have likely heard by now, one of the parting acts of the Bush Administration was to announce the tripling of tariffs on France’s Roquefort cheese. France’s iconic cheese had been the subject of a 100% tariff since 1999, in retaliation for Europe’s rejection of hormone-treated US beef. As the EU has refused to back down on their stance, the US decided to shuffle the products subjected to tariffs to be more persuasive. While a slew of European products were added to the list, Roquefort alone was singled out for a 300% rate. As Roquefort already goes for as much as $30/lb., the increase effectively shuts it out of the US market.

The tariffs go into effect March 23, so we wanted to review this luxury treat before it is banished from our cheese counters. And if your significant other appreciates fine blues, consider giving the gift of Roquefort this Valentine’s Day.

Roquefort (#2 in above photo) is a distinctive blue cheese made from raw sheep’s milk in its small namesake village in the south of France. It is creamy, rich and fabulously pungent from the thick blue veins. It is ideal drizzled with honey and enjoyed with port after dinner, or melts smoothly over a juicy (hormone-free) filet mignon.

In an attempt to identify a possible domestic replacement, my sister-in-law and I conducted a blind taste test of Roquefort and Old Chatham Sheepherding’s Ewes Blue (#1 above), one of the few American sheep’s milk blues I could find locally. (There’s also Ba Ba Blue from Wisconsin’s Carr Valley.) While the Ewes Blue was enjoyable, we both correctly identified the French cheese by its distinctive creamy texture and more complex flavor.

Nothing’s more alluring than forbidden fruit, or in this case, cheese. If your sweetheart’s tastes veer towards the gourmet, why not celebrate Valentine’s Day with a spread of Roquefort, foie gras, truffles and Pellegrino…

P.S. Sign the petition to ban hormone-ridden meat, not cheese!