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Say Cheese: Cinderella Story & Strong Stuff

Fromage fort tastes great when it's broiled on baguette slices, top, or straight from the crock, above. (Domenica Marchetti)

Notes from the cheese world: A Canadian goat’s-milk cheese named Cinderella (Le Cendrillon), was named best cheese in the world at the 21st annual World Cheese Awards.

Recipe Included

The log-shaped, ash-covered cheese from Quebec beat out 2,440 other entries from 34 countries to claim the coveted Grand Champion title in the world’s largest cheese competition. It was the first time ever that a Canadian cheese won the top spot.

Le Cendrillon is produced by La Maison Alexis de Portneuf (which is owned by Saputo, one of the world’s largest milk processors) in St. Raymond de Portneuf, about 30 miles northwest of Quebec City on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. It is described by the producer as a “vegetable ash-covered, soft surface-ripened soft goat cheese with a semi-strong, slightly sour taste that becomes stronger with age.” I’ve never had it, but I’m certainly going to be on the lookout for it — along with every other cheese lover on the planet, no doubt.

The awards are staged by the Guild of Fine Foods, a British organization that promotes specialty foods. The group’s Web site mentioned that a full list of winners won’t be available until Wednesday. I’ll follow up with more on the winning cheeses in next week’s blog.

In the meantime, this past weekend I found myself with a drawer full of leftover cheeses: chunks of Gouda and cheddar, a tiny piece of baby Swiss and assorted other varieties. What to do? Make fromage fort, of course.

Fromage fort ("strong cheese") is a wonderfully resourceful way to go. True fromage fort is made by blending a variety of cheeses together with herbs, garlic, wine and vegetable broth, and then leaving the concoction to marinate and age in a cool spot. The resulting runny cheese, typically strong in aroma and flavor, is what gives fromage fort its name.

But short-cut fromage fort, which is what I did with my leftover cheeses, is much faster, somewhat milder and just as delicious. The nice thing about fromage fort is that you can mix together just about any kind of cheese. Be careful of adding too much blue, though, as it can overwhelm the mixture. And be sure to trim any dry rind or unwanted mold that might have formed on any of the cheeses; it goes without saying that if a cheese is past the edible stage, you should toss it.

Refrigerate your fromage fort in a covered jar or crock. Bring it to room temperature and spread it on crackers or slices of baguette. I like it best on baguette slices and then broiled till the cheese is golden brown.

-- Domenica Marchetti

Fromage Fort
Enough for 1 1/2 baguettes (10 to 12 servings)

1 pound cheese pieces, at room temperature, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at a cool room temperature
1 medium clove garlic, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons minced flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup white wine
Baguette slices, for serving

Combine the cheese pieces and butter in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to incorporate. Add the garlic, parsley and a generous grinding of pepper. With the motor running, slowly add the wine; process until the cheese mixture is a creamy and spreadable consistency (you may not need all the wine, depending on the consistency of your cheese pieces).

Use a spatula to scrape the mixture into a crock, jar or small bowl. Use immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

VARIATION: To make broiled fromage fort, position the top oven rack 4 inches from the (top) broiler element. Preheat the broiler.

Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of fromage fort on baguette slices. Arrange the slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil for 1 minute, or just until the cheese is melted and golden brown in spots. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.

By The Food Section  |  October 6, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Recipes , Say Cheese  | Tags: Domenica Marchetti  
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