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A Delicate, Creamy Treat
Once made from goat’s milk, now from cow’s, this cheese from the Rhône-Alpes region of France is a delicate little treat that requires care its handling. With all its intense flavor, it gained its very own IGP in 2013.
TASTING NOTES FROM THE CURATOR
Creamy goodness in a pot — that is one way to describe Saint-Marcellin. When young, it is a gentle cheese with a creamy texture that can vary from firm to runny, a faint mushroom-like aroma, and a mild salty flavor. As it ripens, the rind becomes beige and powdery, and gains an intensely nutty and fruity flavor with a hint of yeast. Because these small discs of cheese have such a fragile rind, they’re often packed in small terracotta pots for protection.
PREPARATION OR PAIRINGS
In its little pot, this cheese makes a lovely addition to any cheese board. Its earthiness pairs well with crisp, tart fruits like apples, persimmons, and cantaloup. It spreads easily on both crusty bread and crackers. In Lyon, at the heart of the Rhône-Alpes, this cheese is often found both in salads to start the meal and in the dessert cheese section of the menu. The terracotta pot makes it ideal for a light warming in the oven too.
This cheese pairs well with Spanish red wines like the Gigonda, a nice Pinot Noir, or even a sparkling wine. Beer lovers will also be able to enjoy it with a hard apple or pear cider.
FIT FOR A DAUPHIN
Back in the 15th century, it’s said that Louis XI, when he was just the Dauphin and not the king, became separated from his hunting party on an excursion to the Rhône-Alpes. He’s said to have been confronted by a large bear and had to be rescued by local woodsmen near the commune of Saint-Marcellin. They served the Dauphin some of the local cheese while waiting for his hunting party to find him and, in return, he helped popularize the cheese!
Cheeses (except brined ones in jars) should be stored in the crisper or the butter drawer of a refrigerator, not on the shelves themselves. This is to help regulate their temperature and humidity levels — and prevents the formation of mold. Once opened, they should not be kept in their original packaging. Soft cheeses with delicate rinds need to breathe, so they are best placed in glass containers lined with paper towels to absorb extra moisture. Leave the lid open a tiny bit for air to circulate and don’t forget to write up a label with the date you first opened the package. Your cheese will be fine for up to one month.