We often get asked our favourite cheeses – the cheeses we always have at home. And to be honest, the answer changes… a lot. Sometimes we’re really feeling soft Australian brie, sometimes shards of tangy parmesan and sometimes something else entirely. But when it comes to French cheeses, there are five that we never really get off our minds.
5 French Cheeses You Need to Know:
Comté, D’Affinois, D’Affinois Blue, Port Salut, Pont L'éveque
Flavour: Rich and nutty with caramel undertones
Ageing: 18 months
We’ve put Comté first on this list, and it would probably be first on any list of French cheeses that we made. After all, Comté cheese was one of the first cheese styles to receive AOC status way back in 1958, and it’s been produced in just the same way during that time.
It’s also produced in an unusual cooperative manner. There are about 170 dairy farms in the Jura-Massif region in the French Alps where Comté cheese is produced. Each of those only processes milk sourced from within an eight-mile radius of the individual dairy. Each dairy then makes its own Comté cheeses, which are sent for maturation to the cellars of Marcel Petite in an old fort built into the side of the mountains. Pretty awesome.
The result? Each cheese has slightly a different flavour profile because of the unique terrain where the individual milk was produced. But every Comté cheese also retains a similar overarching character because of the way that it’s matured. And that makes it utterly distinct.
When it comes to flavour, Comté cheese is pretty much incomparable. A gruyere-style cheese, Comté has a smooth, buttery texture with rich, nutty flavours and a touch of brown butter sweetness. It tastes fantastic in fondue (our favourite way to enjoy it) especially with tangy sourdough.
Read more about Comté Cheese.
Style: Double crème
Ageing: 2 weeks
There was no way we were going to make any ‘best of’ list of any type without including d’Affinois. This oozy, gooey, buttery, creamy, absolutely delicious French cheese is almost without compare. The ultra-filtration process that creates the d’Affinois uses a method where water is slowly removed, just leaving the cheesy, nutrient-rich, fantastically creamy goodness behind.
We’ve said it before (and we’ll say it again), this is cheese for cheese’s sake. Fresher than brie, creamier than a double crème and absolutely spreadable, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a cheese platter, a fantastic finish to a meal and the cheese we choose when we just want to enjoy something plain delicious (and not at all taxing). Kids, nannas, picky eaters – d’Affinois will turn them all into cheese lovers.
Read more about d’Affinois.
Flavour: Rich blue brie with buttery notes
Ageing: 1 month
If you love d’Affinois (which we do!) then you’ll love d’Affinois Blue. We call this ‘The Bleu for All’ because it’s essentially a rich blue brie. Those kids and nannas that you converted to d’Affinois? D’Affinois Blue will be the next step and the perfect intro to the beautiful world of blues.
Created with the same ultrafiltration process as regular d’Affinois, your d’Affinois Blue is uber-creamy and oozy – like a thick, savoury buttercream. But the blue also has the added tangy depth and sweet-blue buttery aftertaste that comes from the introduced mould.
Perfect with champagne and chardonnay, figs and muscatel – it is an elegant, everyman’s cheese.
Read more about d’Affinois Blue.
Flavour: Mild and savoury
Ageing: 1 month
Port Salut cheese was originally created by Trappist monks at the Abbaye du Port du Salut in the Loire Valley. In fact, it was the very first French cheese produced from pasteurised milk (in 1816), but it didn’t take long for it to be widely embraced. By 1873, weekly deliveries to the Parisian markets were so highly anticipated, that a flag was raised when the cheese finally arrived.
When it comes to taste and texture, you might expect the edible, bright orange washed rind to house a tangy, stinky cheese. Instead, when you cut into a Port Salut you’ll reveal a slightly acidic, semi-soft pale yellow interior with a distinctively rich, yet mild, savoury flavour.
We consider this to be one of our most snackable cheeses whether you’re pulling together an arvo cheese platter for friends, or just raiding the fridge for a midnight snack.
Read more about Port Salut.
Flavour: Rich butter with hints of hay
Ageing: 6 weeks
When you have to ask yourself if a cheese is better than sex, it has to make the list. And Pont L'éveque is that cheese.
It’s no surprise that medieval monks who’d taken a vow of chastity and poverty needed something to keep their lives interesting. What is amazing is how incredible this cheese actually is. In fact, this is probably the oldest Norman cheese still in production today, a true testament to the world’s long-standing love of Pont L’éveque.
This pungent, washed-rind cheese has a classic deep golden colour and funky notes of hay and horses, as well as rich buttery flavours and a touch of salt. The interior is soft and melt-in-the-mouth with a rich creaminess and hints of hazelnut. It is the perfect addition to your date night dinner. Or just cut a deep wedge for scoffing during your favourite Netflix marathon (we may do that ourselves once in a while!).
Read more about Pont L’éveque.