Beyond Brie: Six French Cheeses You Don’t Already Know

Christine Clark Beyond Brie: Six French Cheeses You Don’t Already Know

3 minute Read

Everyone loves a good Brie, but, with all the iconic cheeses France has to offer, it’d be a shame to stop there. While you may not have tried all of the below cheeses, we know that you’ll love them once you do. When it comes to fromage, there’s nothing like the French stuff!

Here are six of our favorite French cheeses that go beyond Brie, plus links to places to buy them.

Brebirousse d’Argental

Brebirousse D’Argental

Credit: murrayscheese.com

This oozy, orange-tinted dreamboat is a sheep’s milk cheese made in the same style as Brie (which is traditionally made with cow’s milk). An orange rind can sometimes indicate a smelly-but-delicious bacteria that’s been intentionally cultivated by the cheesemaker, but Brebirousse’s orange hue is due to annatto, a flavorless dye that colors your favorite grocery-store cheddars.

With notes of mushroom and fresh hay, this cheese is dreamy with a Pinot Noir, or just smeared on your favorite baguette.

Available from Stinky Bklyn.

Brie Fermier

Brie Fermier

Credit: formaggiokitchen.com

This may technically be a Brie, but it’s not like any you’ve had before. If you take a bite expecting it to be mild, buttery, and mushroomy, you will be surprised. That’s because it’s made to mimic unpasteurized French Bries (not currently allowed in the U.S.), which have more garlicky, vegetal flavors. Imagine that you condensed the flavors of broccoli cheddar soup into a gooey cow’s milk Brie, and that’s basically Brie Fermier.

For an elegant wine pairing, try it with Muscadet. For a not-so-elegant food pairing, serve with your favorite potato chips, and dip them right into the ooze.

Available from Formaggio Kitchen.

Comté St. Antoine

Comte

Credit: davidlebovitz.com

Despite being the most popular cheese in France, Comté doesn’t get nearly as much love in the U.S., especially compared to its Swiss cousin, Gruyère. Made in the Jura region of France near the Swiss border, Comté used to be considered the same cheese as Gruyère. In fact, it was called “Gruyère de Comté” until the 1950s, when the French took legal steps to distinguish their product. You must follow a very specific procedure if you want to make Comté, including only using milk from Montbéliarde and French Simmental cows, the breeds native to the area. Said cows must each have around two acres of land to graze on, too. When you taste it, you’ll see why the process is so carefully controlled — Comté is subtle but complex, with flavors ranging from milky and lightly sweet, to roasted and savory. In fact, there is an official flavor wheel with 83 descriptors of the most common flavors you’ll find.

Comté is excellent with your favorite sparkling wine, and out of this world with wines from the Jura. It also melts like a dream.

Available from Zingerman’s.

Laguiole

Laguiole

Credit: formaggiokitchen.com

Laguiole, pronounced “lah-YULL,” is named for a village in southern France, where it was introduced by mountain-dwelling monks in the 12th century. Laguiole is name-protected, and must be made with raw, whole cow’s milk from the Simmental or Aubrac breeds. Each cow is only allowed to produce 6,000 liters of milk per year, and must spend 120 summer grazing days on the pasture, which can be no farther than 50 kilometers from the creamery. Though it’s been made in this region for centuries, it fell out of favor in the 1900s and had to be revived by the local Jeune Montagne cooperative. If you see Laguiole, you may mistake it for a cheddar — it has many of those same meaty, sharp, earthy characteristics.

It’s lovely with a glass of Cahors, and surprisingly good in potato dishes. Aligot, a local delicacy, is essentially this cheese shredded into mashed potatoes.

Available from Formaggio Kitchen.

Secret de Compostelle

Secret de Compostelle

Credit: stinkybklyn.com

Secret de Compostelle is a Basque sheep’s milk cheese, in the same vein as the classic and better-known Ossau Iraty. It’s made on the French side of the border from ewes grazing nearby, or sometimes with milk from the Spanish side of the border. French Basque sheep’s milk cheeses are known for their delicate animal-y quality, tempered by sweeter, wild mushroom flavors.

Crack open a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and make a night of it with this cheese, some seeded crackers, and your favorite salami.

Available from Stinky Bklyn.

Bleu de Bocage

Bleu de Bocage

Credit: murrayscheese.com

Vendée, in southern France, is known for its sandy beaches, sunny days, and delicious butter. Goats were recently introduced to the region, and we’re sure glad they were, because Vendée is where the wonderful Bleu de Bocage is made. Even splendid goat’s milk cheeses can carry a bit of goaty flavor sometimes, but Bleu de Bocage only shows the minerality and caramelly side of goat’s milk, with a bit of umami on the finish.

It’s marvelous with a cream sherry, or even just a bit of honey drizzled over it as dessert.

Available from the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills.

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