Saturday, July 07, 2007

Blessed are the Little Ones

20 minutes south, 20 minutes north
Sometimes the cheese freak show comes to town. They roll in during the vacation periods, when the regular vendors have left spots to fill, and they roll out an enormous wheel of Beaufort. Tourists come and stand in front of them to have their photos taken, and then get fast talked into buying some.

Put that huge cheese out of your mind for a moment. Imagine arriving to the market and hearing a different call. "Step right up folks, right this way! Here we have the smallest wheel of cheese in the world!"

Sounds a bit odd, you say? One day a few years ago I started thinking about small cheeses. A whole new delectable universe opened up to me. There are quite a few different cheeses that I could easily put on the table in the kitchen of my dollhouse, and they would look right at home there. Sumptuous and grand. But at the fromagerie they are so small, they can be easy to overlook. Don't let the little ones pass under your radar, folks, you'll be missing something special.

actual size
One of my favorites of the lilliputian stature is a local raw goat’s milk cheese called the Rigotte de Condrieu (the cheese on the left). It rarely weighs more 30 grams when fairly new, and the fromager gets them in palettes and takes it from there. With time, it shrinks down and dries until it splinters when wedged into delicious little shards of pleasure. You can get it at all stages of affinage. I prefer mine rather dry, because it’s then that the cheese takes on a beautiful balance between tangy and creamy. My idea of heaven is a nice Rigotte de Condrieu with a glass of St. Joseph, preferably at sunset when there's nothing to think about but how the sun makes it glow.

Most of the other rigottes are made of cow’s milk, and there are many kinds to choose from. A very good one is the Rigotte des Monts du Lyonnais (on the right), from the other side of town, about the same distance north from Lyon as Condrieu is to the south. It also ages quite well but I prefer this one younger than I do the Rigotte de Condrieu.

There is a fromager at Les Halles called Marechal on cours Lafayette that tends to the little ones extremely well. They have really got it down to a science. They also have really good connections, and source many of the little cheeses that you just won’t find elsewhere. I always go to Marechal when I want itty bitty little cheeses for the plate because no one does them better.

For the little cheeses:
Fromagerie Maréchal
Halle de Lyon
102 cours Lafayette
69003 LYON
04 78 62 36 77

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Blogger Jann said...

A wonderful post today~ and your photos are beautiful. You have mentioned a number of cheeses I am not familiar with and certainly would enjoy eating.Your idea of heaven is one many foodies would enjoy experiencing! Thanks for all the info! Cheers

2:16 PM, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Connie said...

oh they are adorable. perfect size for a snack too!

2:18 PM, July 10, 2007  
Blogger s'kat said...

So cute and cuddly! Americans have their 100-calorie snack packs, but I think the French do it with way more style.

3:08 PM, July 13, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

You all have it right!

9:56 PM, July 17, 2007  

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