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Archive for February 9, 2009

VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS: VDay Minus 5 ~ Painter Girl Chocolates

If your Valentine is artistic, or simply likes a good animal print, there’s a wealth of riches here. Painter Girl makes chocolate palettes, paint tubes and a tablet of the great Mexican painter Frieda Kahlo (in Mexican-spiced chocolate). For generalists, there’s a box of fuschia-wrapped bonbons with dried cherry centers and wild, wild animal print chocolate bars. How can anyone say no? Visit http://paintergirlchocolates.com. Frida Kahlo Chocolate

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Cheese of the Week ~ Langres

Langres Cheese

Langres cheese is available on Amazon.com.

This week’s cheese recommendation is from guest blogger Dana Romero, proprietor of La Fromagerie D’Acadiana in Lafayette, Louisiana.

With Valentine’s Day upon us, bottles of bubbly will be popped all over the world. Our cheese of the week pairs well with Champagne, and hails from the same area where real bubbly is made, the Champagne-Ardenne region of France (in the northeast of the country, bordering Belgium). Langres dates back to the 18th century; its name and origin come from the main market town of the time, Langres, in the French départment (similar to a county) of the Haute Marne. While its origins are old, it did not gain A.O.C. status until May 1991. The cheese can only be made in the three regions: Cote-d’Or, Haute Marne and Vosges.

Langres (pronounced LAHNG-gruh) is a cow’s milk cheese, cylindrical in shape, weighing about 180g (6.3 ounces). It is a vigorous cheese with a pronounced odor, although it is a less pungent cheese than Époisses de Bourgogne, its neighbor and the local competition. (It’s from the same cheese family as Epoisses and Muenster.)

The taste of salt is present, making the flavor of the cheese distinct without being aggressive, and an aftertaste some have described as soaked in honey and truffles. The rind of the cheese is sticky and shiny, showing off a magnificent natural orange color. The paste is soft, creamy in color and slightly crumbly; it has a bloomy white penicillium candidum rind.

During the maturing period, the cheeses are placed in humid cellars, where ripening usually takes 5 to 6 weeks. The cheeses are regularly rubbed with brine, either by hand or with a damp cloth. A red dye extracted from annatto seeds is also applied, which gives the cheese an orange color. The form of the cheese is a cylinder with a well on the top, which is called the fontaine or cuvette in French (think of the depression on the top of a mini cheesecake). This depression is intentional; you can pour Champagne or Marc de Champagne in it to further flavor the cheese. Enjoy it on the cheese board or with a salad; if you don’t like Champagne, a red Burgundy will do nicely.

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