We are experiencing techinical difficulties folks, preventing me from updating you in a timley manner. Fortunately, my hostess deep in the Jura mountains is allowing me to use her computer for a brief moment.
Third Stop: Belfort, France
Back in my comfort zone, but what to do on a Sunday night in France, when everything is closed save those few devoted capitalists ready to serve? Fortunately, in this quiet little town, I happened unpon a restaurant with every table in the house open to my taking. It was either this or the more swanky spot across the street. In my experience, go for the less pretentious guy. And in this case, I made a sound decision.
At the Hotel/Restaurant St. Christophe, I enjoyed my first and second course and a conversation in regional cuisine alongside a special cheese plate prepared just for me for dessert. How does one get this special plate? Why, strike up a conversation with the chef about regional cuisine, of course. In our conversation he shared so,e secret specialties of the Franche-Comte region that I will further explore over the next several days. You'll recognize several cheeses from this region: Comte, Morbier, and Bleu de Gex. One with which you might not be so familiar would be Concoillotte. According to Belfort's local chef, it's not even known by other Frenchies living outside this region. Apparently, it's similar to crème-fraîche, thick in consistency, creamy, and slightly tangy in flavor. I'll get some in the next town, as he had none to offer me at that time.
The cheese plate consisted of Comte--a raw cow's milk cheese, with a natural rind--, a no-name blue cheese, which was of similar consistency as Mozzarella Company's Deep Ellum Blue, a brie that was particularly bland, and finally, the gem of the plate, a no-name chevre.
A note on brie:
Lindsey sent me off with a sub-mission to find out when to serve this American favorite-at what stage of ripeness. This one was served before it's peak, while it was still a bit firm, not soft and creamy in the middle. However, I still need to ask a pro.
A note on the mystery chevre and names in general:
Cheeses with the AOC distinction have specific names, typically to indicate the location from which they come or a reference to a special person or quality of the cheese. Not all cheeses receive the grand AOC honor; and generally do not take on any special name. For example, when you are in the Alps and ask for chevre, you'll more than likely get a cheese that is made from goat's milk from the Alps. The particular chevre I had seemed to really excite the chef. Made from raw goat's milk with a molded rind, like brie, it was much creamier in consistency than the brie. It's flavor: slightly pungent with a long finish.
Next Stop: St. Claude