If I were ever to be cast away on a desert island, but had the option to take one luxury with me, I have always said that it would be cheese. I’m sure that I would find life very difficult as a castaway, but if I had an endless supply of cheese, that would go some way to making life more bearable! Hardly a week passes without me enjoying some good mature Cheddar, (that has to be my all-time favourite) or one of the many delicious soft French cheeses, and there are so many of them, the list is almost endless. Some months ago, I wrote about a cheese to which we were introduced by our neighbour in the south of France. That was the triple cream cheese called Brillat-Savarin; but today, if you have not already had the good fortune to try it, I would like to introduce you to a cheese called Pié d’Angloys.
Of all the soft-ripened cheeses, this is probably my favourite, and is thankfully readily available here in the United Kingdom, at many of the major supermarkets, as well, of course, in artisan cheese shops. When we are in France, it is to be found in La Fromagerie in nearly all the supermarkets.
This cheese originates in the Burgundy region of Eastern France, an area renowned for its fine foods and wine, and some say was created by Cistercian monks in the fourteenth century; others however say that it did not exist before 1992, but whatever its origins it is a creamy and full bodied cow’s milk cheese, similar in some ways to Camembert, but the major difference is that Pié d’Angloys is one of those cheeses whose rind is washed with wine as it ages, a process which allows it to age from the inside out, and thus the cheese becomes more molten and pungent with time.
The edible white rind of the cheese changes colour as it matures, due to the wine washing process, and eventually becomes more of a copper colour, and when a wedge is cut from the round wheel, a smooth luxuriant paste is revealed, with a slightly pungent aroma. It is equally spreadable on biscuits and bread, or eaten in the French manner with a knife and fork. Whichever way you decide to eat it, do not forget that essential glass of wine to go with it, a full bodied red perhaps, or if your preference is for white, then a Sancerre or Chardonnay.
Pié d’Angloys nearly always finds its way on to the cheeseboard in this household. It is a perfect addition, and has always brought comments of approval from guests at our table. It is good also for cooking to flavour sauces and with pasta, or simply cutting yourself a wedge from the fridge when you feel peckish!
One last word about the name of this cheese, about which there is great uncertainty. The words Pié d’Angloys are not words from modern French but from Medieval French, which when translated into modern French would read Pied de l’anglais or the foot of the Englishman. I shall leave you with that thought, but please do not be put off by that connection, because it is a very tasty cheese, albeit one with a definite aroma, and one that can be described quite simply as “moorish!” I hope you enjoy it!