Epoisses cheese from the Burgundy region of France was hailed by no less of an authority than Brillat-Savarin, the 18th to 19th century French philosopher and culinary expert, as being le roi de fromages, or the king of cheeses. With its strong distinctive odor, it is certainly a cheese that commands attention.Epoisses de Bourgogne is one of the 50 or so different cheeses in France to be protected by an AOC, or appellation d'origine controlée . There are a number of strict rules that must be followed in the making of this cheese, including a requirement that the cow's milk used to make it all come from a prescribed geographical area near the tiny town of Epoisses, in the region of Borurgogne, or Burgundy as it often called by English speakers. This cheese has a long tradition behind it and it is said that it was originally made by Cistercian monks in the 16th century, who then taught the local farmers the secrets of its production. So when you savor the creamy deliciousness of an Epoisses, have a thought for the glorious history of culinary savoir faire that is a cherished part of French culture. You may even be able to taste history! Other then demarcating the area of fabrication and ripening, the AOC stipulates the method for elaborating this soft, washed-rind cheese
How to Enjoy Epoisses CheeseFully ripened. An Epoisses is ready to eat when it feels soft. If you push on it and it has some give, it's probably ready. Temperature: Like most cheeses, be sure to enjoy your Epoisses at room temperature. Take it out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes beforehand - an hour would be better. Wine: Being a strong full flavored cheese, it is best to serve Epoisses with a wine equal to it. Sauternes , a sweet wine from Bordeaux, is often recommended, but a spicy full bodied white wine (from Bourgogne perhaps) will also do it service. Method: Sometimes a thin layer is cut off the top of the cheese, and then the cheese can be scooped out of the rind with small spoons. Spread it on slices of a robust bread and serve with a few grapes for contrast. Cheese Platter : Because this is a strong cheese, be sure to offer some alternatives to guests if you think they may shy from its odor.
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