The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Brie de Meaux and fresh ripe plums

brie and plumsDanny loves Brie de Meaux and, unfortunately for him, I am becoming addicted too. It’s available in the UK but there is nothing like a slab bought from a French cheese shop and delivered to your door the very next day.

It tastes better, fresher and even looks more tempting dressed in the chunky fromagerie paper. Then wrapped in an outer layer of delicate brown paper that has the soft, gentle crackle of a special present, wrapped with care.

Supermarkets have forced out most of the small specialist shops in the UK. It’s still OK if you live in a city but out in the sticks you are lucky if you find a decent independent butcher.

The French still nurture their specialist shops. These excel at presentation and enhancing the shopping experience. They offer the ultimate in gourmand pampering to everyone who steps over their threshold. The first time that we stayed with Jocelyn and Miles in France we visited a good local boulangerie. Despite dire warnings regarding the large meal to be consumed that evening D and I went wild and chose mille feuilles – as light and soft as a butterfly kiss. These cakes had a definite impact on the evening meal but I often remember them, the smiling girl behind the counter and the fragile box tied with pretty ribbon. Nothing can match untying the ribbon and the first trembling taste.

Our friends have a lovely house in France, near Versailles. They go over several times a year and usually give us a buzz.
“We are off to the market tomorrow do you have a list?”
My mind takes a nanno second to connect.
“Would you like the usual order. Brie de Meaux, Chèvre and something stinky. Would you like tabac?”
“Yes, please!”
Sometimes we add garlic to the list and occasionally wine and salami.

We had a fresh delivery on Tuesday evening. Wednesday lunchtime, Danny was in London, so I lifted the beautifully wrapped packages onto the worktop to examine them, solo.

Four pairs of eyes watched from the floor as I sampled some brie straight from the knife. Wonderful soft flavours and a creaminess that cried out for a foil. M and J had included a large carrier bag of plums from their own French tree. The combination was wonderful. Forget grapes. I had to try the slicable Chèvre with a bite of plum. Superb. Then I assisted the soft, runny goat’s cheese onto a slice of soft nutty bread and guzzled. There was no time to sample the fourth package. The four pairs of eyes chomped the crusts and I rushed back to work with seconds to spare.

Today I made Danny a brie and plum sandwich to acompany him to London. The exultant text from the train was just one word,

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat,

    Unfortunately the Brie de Meaux bonanza is nearly over. There is only a tiny bit left.

    Hi Kate,

    I wish both our nations would cotton on to the value of small specialist shops before it is too late.

    Hi Celia,

    Your Cambridge Gages sound good. We have a plum tree in the garden (dark Victoria plum type) and I have found several good wild damson, plum and bullace trees in the hedgerows around the village. I love going off for an hour or two foraging.

    Ho KJ,

    Yes we are very lucky to have access to such fresh French cheese.

  2. I am jealous. I love good cheese.

  3. Plums are so gorgeous – and there are so many varieties and flavours if you are lucky enough to find them. I’ll have to try plums and brie – looks good!

    Our Cambridge Gages are very nearly ripe – can’t wait!!!!!!
    They would be just right with a good sharp tangy cheese.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. This looks so good … I loved hearing about your delivery. I wish for the same thing!!

    It is the same here – small shops eventually give way to the large supermarkets. We lose much.

  5. Ohhhhhhhh Lovely!!!

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