François Robin (pictured) has revealed his ultimate guide to mastering all things cheese
A French cheese connoisseur has revealed his ultimate guide to mastering all things cheese, from perfecting a platter to the best wine pairings.
François Robin, who’s a world-renowned cheesemonger, said the perfect cheeseboard should always start with the mildest cheese and finish with the strongest.
‘This will indicate to your guests the correct order the cheese should be eaten. You don’t want to overpower your taste buds first and not be able to taste anything else,’ François told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Whether you’re building a cheeseboard for yourself or for a number of guests, make sure you select a range of cheeses so that everyone has one of their favourites on the board and there is a good variety.
‘Don’t be afraid to experiment with new flavours you might not have tried before. This is how you learn more about the cheese pairings you love.’
The cheese connoisseur said the perfect cheeseboard should always start with the mildest cheese and finish with the strongest (stock image)
The ingredients you should ALWAYS include on your cheeseboard
Bread and crackers, particularly ones that already have some flavouring, whether this be fruits such as raisins and cranberries, or sesame seeds
Fresh fruits like grapes and blueberries, dried fruits such as apricots as well as nuts and macadamias as these complement the different flavours of the cheese
Honey – this will transform the flavour of your blue cheese especially
Salted butter – it’s a great added extra on every cheeseboard
Cured meats and pickles
The Bon Fromage ambassador said the board should include a variety of cheeses based on the types of milk, textures and intensities.
‘The perfect cheeseboard is one that includes a range of cheeses from different types of milk (cow, goat, sheep), textures (from creamy to hard) and intensities (from mild to intense),’ he explained.
Besides cheeses, François said the board should always be served with an array of condiments, fruits, nuts, cured meats, pickles, bread and gourmet crackers.
‘Don’t listen to the French traditions that tell you not to pair your cheese with anything, it’s an old-fashioned way to react. Cheese is an accessible product you can play with and adapt to your taste and ingredients preferences,’ he explained.
‘Bread and crackers, particularly ones that already have some flavouring, whether this be fruits such as raisins and cranberries, or sesame seeds.
‘Don’t forget your condiments – fresh fruits like grapes and blueberries, dried fruits such as apricots as well as nuts and macadamias are a must as they complement the different flavours of the cheese.
‘Basically anything that will encourage people to pair the cheese with other ingredients. This is where the magic happens.’
Besides cheeses, François said the board should always be served with an array of condiments, fruits, nuts, cured meats, bread and gourmet crackers
The best cheese and wine pairings
1. Most white wines match with cheese, especially if you go for dry ones or ones with a touch of sweetness
2. Red wines pair well with heavier cheeses but avoid full bodied and oaky reds, as the tannins will give a metallic taste to your regular Brie. Try fruity red wines instead, like Beaujolais or Pinot Noir with Tomme
3. Sparkling wines are great with double cream cheeses and mild intensities, like Brillat-Savarin
4. Sweet wines are perfect with salty cheeses like Blue
5. Camembert and Brie are both great with apple cider, which is also a local French match (those products generally come from the same region in France)
6. Époisses and white wines such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon
François said honey is a great ingredient to include because it ‘will transform the flavour of your blue cheese especially’ and he never forgets about the salted butter.
‘I love to add salted butter to everything (due to my French background) but it’s always welcome as an added extra,’ he explained.
But there are a few ingredients François always leaves off the cheeseboard.
‘Green apple as it’s way too acidic, same with kiwi despite it looking nice on the platter. Citrus like oranges and mandarin are also not recommended,’ he explained.
When creating a cheese board for entertaining, François suggested pre-cutting cheeses in small portion slices to indicate the sharing the sharing size to guests.
‘You don’t want anyone to be left with the rind. If you can, have one knife per cheese so that the flavour of each cheese remains intact and they don’t merge,’ he said.
François said honey is a great ingredient to include because it ‘will transform the flavour of your blue cheese especially’ and he never forgets about the salted butter (stock image)
The best cheeses to include on a platter
Double cream Brie or Brillat-Savarin: They provide a pure shot of slightly tangy cream and are great to highlight black truffle
Comté: This cheese is the next ‘big thing’! It can be aged up to four years and tastes best around 18-24 months
A good goat cheese: To bring some variety and something more animal to your cheese experience
Époisses: This one is a decadent runny cheese. When washed with a French spirit (liqueur), it gives the perfect balance between intensity and milkiness
Fourme d’Ambert: Lesser known compared to Roquefort, this blue cheese is buttery with the final sensation being less salty. It’s great to pair with sweet ingredients such as pear, jam and gingerbread
When serving the cheeses, aromas will be perfect at room temperature (18°C) and will become a little less perfect over 20°C, he said.
‘The best thing to do is to put your cheeses out of the fridge for about 30 minutes (or less if it is a warm day) before serving.’
He said there are common mistakes people make when creating a platter, such as cutting the cheese in parallel slices instead of a triangle shape.
‘This will mean the first and last guests will only get the rind of the cheese if you cut the cheese in parallel slices,’ he said.
Other mistakes are getting the cheeses out of the fridge too long before eating and putting only one knife on the board.
‘Once you’ve cut a blue cheese for example, some leftovers are on the blade and it’s really better to have other knives to cut properly,’ he said.
François said you should avoid filling your cheeseboard with too many ingredients.
‘Not enough space between cheeses means that you will struggle to cut the cheeses. Give them space,’ he said.
Recognised as one of France’s best cheesemongers, François will be hosting free masterclasses on entertaining guests with cheese and drinks during the Bon Fromage Festival of European Cheeses from November 27 to 29.
‘I’m ecstatic to once again bring the world of French Cheese to Australia and share the rich cultural and culinary heritage that each cheese encompasses. But most of all, help Aussies experience the simple pleasure of eating French cheeses,’ he said.
For more details, please Bon Fromage Festival website.