by Martin Field
Australian Cheesewhiz Richard Thomas told me of his recent visit to France as a participant in the International Caseus Award competition.
‘Hi Martin, Amazing time in France. Found THE food street of Paris, Rue Mouffetard, with an M. Androuet Fromagerie plus two others. Ninety per cent of the cheese was ‘lait cru’ so it’s still the cheese at the top end, that’s for sure. So I was charging around like a Mad Cambodian Duck Strangler eating all the cheese I could lay my teeth on. Plus, the shops were awash with all kinds of foie gras, of truffled items (like an Italian salami with tartufo), of ready meals, of apple pies, etc. All amazing.
‘We took off to Getaria, a little Basque fishing town just west of San Sebastian, a place I started visiting in the early ‘70s, hasn’t changed, great restaurants, grilled fish, crab and foie gras etc. Fabulous.
‘Then down to Mugaritz, a gorgeous restaurant rated in the world top 10. A highlight dish was six tiny gnocchi, about the texture of egg yolk made from a sheep milk cheese, semi-liquid in a semi-opaque membrane, sitting in a consommé so perfect, clear and wonderfully seasoned. Like the Japanese say “a little bit too much: a little bit not enough”. Each gnoccho had a tiny frond of a different herb, cut from the forest around the restaurant, each one had a different flavour of course, delicate in the extreme.
‘Then off to Lyon for the Caseus Awards 2009. We did pretty well considering we hadn’t ever tasted or in fact seen many of the cheeses before, but just the same, came in ninth ahead of Belgium, Spain and Italy.
‘Spent a night at the amazing Hotel Cour des Loges, in Lyon, with a concierge that is so cool (like the guy in Pretty Woman, only real). We got on famously since he has a ‘69 Triumph. Then spent the night in the bar after closing time, big night, huge night actually. All the best mate, Richard.’