Notes from the Salon du Fromage (continued)

Notes from the Salon du Fromage (continued)

And here is the second batch of notable tidbits from the Salon du Fromage! (Read the first part here.)

Mont d’Or is a cow cheese, soft inside a thicker rind, wrapped in pine bark and sold in a round wooden box. A popular and wonderful way to eat it is the “Boîte Chaude” (Hot Box), where the Mont d’Or is oven-baked in its box, with a little white wine. Les Monts de Joux, a cheese producer from the Jura, sells their delicious Mont d’Or in a fun DIY kit, which includes a small bottle of vin d’Arbois and all the necessary instructions to prepare your own Boîte Chaude. Baked Mont d’Or is, in my experience, a great dish to share with a few close friends, along with a nice salad and good crusty bread : each guest helps himself, more or less messily, to a spoonful of gooey and tasty cheese. And before long, everyone resorts to just dipping his bread directly in, then passing the cheese on to his neighbor. A wonderfully comforting and laid-back pseudo-meal.

– A producer from Poitou-Charentes was offering fresh goat cheese flavored with herbs and condiments in convenient little trays, petit-four style : balls of goat cheese rolled in raisins, chopped walnuts or shallots flakes, or small triangles sprinkled with herbes de Provence, dill, crushed pepper or cumin seeds. Reminds you of something?

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Notes from the Salon du Fromage

Notes from the Salon du Fromage

Is there such a thing as eating too much cheese? I think not, although I did try my best at the 8th edition of the Salon du Fromage, last Sunday.

The Salon du Fromage is held every other year during the Salon de l’Agriculture, at the huge Porte de Versailles exhibition center. While the Salon de l’Agriculture is open to the general public – hordes of families can be seen going there, and my metro was full of those kids, shiny-eyed with expectation : “et alors y’aura des vaches, maman? et des moutons aussi, maman, einh, y’aura des moutons, aussi?” (“and will we see cows there, mommy? And sheep too, mommy, say, mommy, will there be sheep too?”) – the Salon du Fromage is a smaller affair, held in a different hall, and open only to professionals.

Its purpose is to bring together all the actors of the fascinating little world of cheese : cheese producers, cheese refiners, cheese distributors, cheese importers, cheese co-ops, sellers of cheese-related supplies, and a host of miscellaneous cheese enthusiasts. I’ll let you guess which category yours truly falls in.

And here are a few nuggets drawn from the notes I took while wandering around the alleys, chatting with the exhibitors and my fellow visitors, trying to juggle my notebook, samples of cheese, an increasingly greasy pen and an ever-growing collection of recipe cards and leaflets.

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I Don’t Believe We’ve Been Properly Introduced

I Don't Believe We've Been Properly Introduced

How about playing a little guessing game?

The first reader to correctly uncover the identity of this UFO (Unidentified Food Object), as well as the reader who comes up with the most unlikely or the funniest suggestion, will each get the wallpaper of their choice, signed to their name with a little note.

Not to mention the fame, and my respect and consideration for at least a couple of days. How’s that for a tempting prize?


Well, dear readers, the UFO was in fact, <drumroll>… plaited mozzarella! Or more accurately a tresse de mozzarella, kindly given to me by a French producer at the Salon du Fromage – the tale of which will follow later today.

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Warm Potato Salad

Salade Tiède de Charlottes

[Warm Potato Salad]

The other day, when my Campanier basket included a bag of Charlottes, Jackie mentioned that her favorite use for these small potatoes, tender-fleshed and sweet, was a warm potato salad. This stuck in my mind so much that I couldn’t think, for the life of me, what else any one could possibly choose to make with these beauties.

I made this salad using the leftover ham and parsley I had on hand, and threw in some toasted hazelnuts for the added crunch and nuttiness. Easy enough to make on a weeknight, it turned out to be really delicious, with a decidedly high comfort factor.

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Black Radish “Chips”

Black Radish "Chips"

My vegetable basket this week included three black radishes, oblong and rather large. Black radish is another one of those forgotten vegetables, so I was quite happy for the chance to experiment with it.

Last time I had bought a black radish, I had used it raw in a yogurt-dressed salad, and had been rather unimpressed. I realize in hindsight that it probably wasn’t very fresh: it was much limper than the crisp and vigorous ones I got this week. Still, I wanted to try them in their cooked form this time.

One of them I cut up in matchsticks and added to an Asian stir-fry, to very good results. And I decided to bake the two remaining ones: baking is my favorite cooking method for root vegetables, as it brings out their sweetness in a delightful way.

These oven-baked black radish chips turned out really well: their natural pungency is toned down by the baking, yet the edge remains, and they proved quite addictive.

In slicing them up, I also discovered how beautiful this vegetable is, with the white on white sunray pattern on each slice. Afterwards, I thought it would have been even nicer to leave half of the peel on, in stripes, so that each of the slices would have dashes on the rim.

Black Radishes

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