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A Good Camembert

As I headed for the door towards Tuesday’s market, shopping bags in my arms, the Frenchman called out his only request for this week – “a good camembert.”

At the Enschede market there are several cheesemongers who have Saturday market stalls as well as a permanent stall in the market square that is open every day. This permanent stall is our go-to for cheese purchasing as it is possible to literally ride our bikes up to the counter, order, and ride away without ever dismounting. Plus, it also gives out frequent-buyer chips that can be cashed in for what appear to be stuffed cows. We unfortunately only recently learned of the chips but have made progress towards a cow with 5 chips in our chip container, representing 12.50 euros in purchases. Only 45 more chips and 112.50 euros to go.

After my shopping at Tuesday’s market I stopped by the square’s cheesemonger to see about the Frenchman’s request, but the single Camembert did not look like it might fall in the “really good” category. This hunt called for a short bike ride to the other side of the city center and a pop into one of my favorite stores in Enschede, De Leckernij. One side of this speciality shop as well as the center aisle is dedicated to cheese while the other side contains vats of oil and vinegars from which I refill my oil bottles every few weeks. (The back is full of sausages, nuts roasted in-house, and olives.) This oil and vinegar concept is new to me but appears popular in Enschede as I have recently discovered another shop taking the concept further; its name – Oil & Vinegar.

The smells upon entering De Leckernij are overwhelming. The air is heavy with the aroma of cheese and garlic, which hangs on strings around the shop. Samples are a plenty, and the Frenchman particularly likes to come with me and nosh. “Can we try that one? And that one? And, what’s that one?” we ask while the clerks cut slices for us to try. “Shhhhh,” I whisper. “No more. They’re going to get annoyed with us when we only buy one thing after having sampled fifteen.”

“I’m looking for a really good Camembert,” I told the clerk this afternoon, “the best you have.” The options were many – slices of Camembert, rounds of pasteurized Camembert, raw Camembert. Always swayed by pretty things, I settled on La Petite Normande, which features a woman dressed in traditional clothing on its logo. The cheese comes from Normandy, the birthplace of Camembert, from the cheese maker Le Pic Saint-Loup, which, interestingly, is the name of a mountain situated on the other end of France outside of Montpellier, where we spent a month last year.

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After doing some at-home research, I am confident I chose the best Camembert Enschede has to offer. Per one Web site:

Domaine de Saint Loup’s ‘La Petite Normande’, . . . is one of the few remaining genuine Norman Camemberts. The cheese is made from raw cow’s milk and is hand ladled, dry salted and turned manually during maturation. When ripe the white rind is streaked with reddish brown patches and has the signature Camembert aroma of cabbage and mould. The paste should have no trace of chalkiness, but- unlike Camembert Rustique-it never becomes liquid. The flavour is full and pungent, with traces of mushrooms, butter and grass.

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Mmmmm cabbage and mould. Though the cheese was meant to be for tomorrow, as I write, I am becoming more and more hungry and head to the fridge to sample our new cheese. Even though I know full well that cheese should always be served at room temperature (or melted or baked) for the best taste I cannot resist and now sit, writing, with a piece of Camembert on a plate next to me. It is simply delicious with a full, strong taste, a very good Camembert indeed.

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* Another reason that I love De Leckernij is that it is located near both my favorite loose-tea store in the city, Tuttitalia, as well as my favorite coffeehouse (not coffeeshop,) Bagels & Beans, which is as close to a sit-and-work-on-the-computer-with-a-latte place as I’ve discovered so far in Enschede. Pretty much, it is the best block in the city.

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