From Too Many Chefs -

April 13, 2004
Meet the Cheese

One Mean Cheese
I never thought I would meet a cheese I didn't like. Maybe some that I like slightly less than others. But a cheese I didn't like? That would be heresy!

Well, call me a heretic and slap me with a cracker - I've found one. I bought it on Saturday at our local cheesemonger to serve with the Easter dinner. It's called a Boulette d'Avesnes and it looked colorful and intriguing on the shelf in the store. But I was sadly deceived.

According to my cheese reference book, the Guide des Fromages de France et de l'Europe (Sélection du Reader's Digest, yes, they apparently have them here too) the Boulette d'Avesnes comes from the Northeast of France and is made from raw cow milk. It was originally made with the buttermilk leftover from buttermaking. Nowadays, it is made from broken or unsuccessful Maroilles cheeses. Now this, to me, explains a lot. It has a slightly acidic taste, so you can imagine it being a descendent - even if no longer direct - of a buttermilk cheese. And then Maroilles comes close to being a cheese I don't like. When it's too ripe (fait) it can be really sharp. I mean really sharp.

So what was my Boulette like? Firstly, it was wrapped in plastic wrap, which is never a good sign in my book. It usually means slimy cheese, and the Boulette was indeed slightly slimy. Looking further, it seemed promising: the cheese is covered with paprika (which we like) and has a crumbly interior. Peppery and spicy and crumbly....but no. It has a slightly bitter peppery taste and even the texture is somehow unpleasant. It was the most popular cheese in that everyone tasted it...but everyone disliked it. (Did you try that red cheese? It's really nasty! Let me have a taste...)

So maybe I just had a bad experience. I recently added a comment to a US food blog posting about époisses where the person had obviously been sold an inferior cheese. If there is anyone out there who really likes Boulettes d'Avesnes, write and tell me where I went wrong and how to find a good one! I would hate to wreck a perfect record.

Last minute update!

According to this site, the cheese is best appreciated with a strong red wine or a small glass of gin. Isn't everything better with a small glass of gin?

Posted by Meg in Sussex at April 13, 2004 3:18 AM | TrackBack

Sounds more like a cheese to be appreciated under general anaesthesia.

Posted by Barrett on April 13, 2004 at 1:02 PM

I forgot to mention that it is also washed with beer. I think this might also add to the general sour/bitter taste. Blame it on the Belgians - it's right on the border between the two countries!

Posted by Meg in Paris on April 14, 2004 at 5:06 AM

I tried it while in France this Summer and loved it. The trip was my first exposure to "real" cheese, so maybe I just don't know any better. I'm certainly having an impossible time finding it here in the states.

Posted by Rob on October 13, 2004 at 6:22 AM