A year or so ago, our French neighbours invited us to dinner. I don’t remember everything that we had to eat, but I do remember it being un repas simple entre amis (a simple meal among friends). However, I cannot forget the cheese that they served us, in French style of course, between the main course and the dessert. It was a cheese we had not tasted before, or in fact, even heard of. This cheese was Brillat-Savarin.
Suzanne, our neighbour, served the cheese quite simply with a crusty baguette, but she told us that it was also very good served with just fresh strawberries. This is because it is a very creamy cheese, (you’ve heard of double cream, well this cheese is made from triple cream!) almost sweet, but with a faintly sour, but not unpleasant, after taste. We have tried this back home in the U.K. and indeed it does work, the creamy sweet texture of the cheese compliments the fresh fruit beautifully.
Brillat-Savarin was first created at the end of the nineteenth century in Normandy, (and then later in Burgundy) and was initially called Excelsior and Délice des gourmets (Gourmets’ delight), but in the 1930s, the great French cheesemonger Henri Androuët, whose great role in life was to introduce Parisians to the rich variety of their native cheeses which he gathered from all over the country to sell in his Paris shop, renamed the cheese in honour of the eighteenth century gourmet and political figure, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.
It is obviously quite easy to find this cheese in fromageries and supermarkets in France, but we wanted to to able to enjoy this cheese back in the U.K. too. Specialist cheese shops such as Paxton & Whitfield in London, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bath stock it, but much to our delight we found it also in the food halls of M&S. I’m told that it is also available from Waitrose.
Last night we had friends here for dinner, and we served this cheese along with a hard cheese from the Basque region of France. The last word must go to our guest who, tasting the cheese for the first time, said that it was just like having double cream on bread! Try it for yourself, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!