People who have met me know that I like cheese, a lot. I talk about it near constantly and probably give the impression of being a terrible cheese snob (I am by the way).
|Tentation de Saint Félician|
I do have favourites though, and one of those is Tentation de Saint Félicien. It's a ridiculous cheese, weighing in at around 70% fat.
St Félicien (not tentation) is fairly widely available, even in the UK, check out a French cheese stall in your local market and you'll probably find some. The Tentation however, is a rarer beast, it's the St Félicien recipe, au lait-cru naturally, with added cream, making it what the French call double crème (If you're after something even more outrageous, try some of the triple-crèmes, such as Brillat Savarin, Brillat truffé if possible).
Think of it as a savoury clotted cream, both in texture and wonderful bad-for-you-ness. Now don't get me wrong, the standard St. Félicien is a good cheese and sadly, it's all you are likely to find in most parts of the UK (I've searched pretty hard). Once you get to France however, if you are prepared to look, and luck is on your side, you can usually find the tentation (temptation).
Tasting wise, it's mild and buttery and has a beuatiful texture, less forceful than the standard St Félicien or the similar St. Marcelin (smaller, but packing an impressive kick). The taste is there though, a subtle pungency that is enough to cut through the creamy-ness, a little earthy with none of the tang associated with Camembert.
With a cheese like this, the texture is key and therefore, thought needs to be put into serving temperature. Depending on it's ripeness, you probably don't want to leave this cheese out too long before eating, I would say 15-20 minutes at most.
Generally when ripe, you will find a bit of variation in texture - some firmness in the middle whilst the exterior, just below the fragile and off-white skin, will be completely liquid. The residual chill helps to accentuate the difference between the two. Allowing a fine marriage on the (essential) crusty baguette. This is rather like butter for me, the optimum is neither fridge cold or room temperature.
If on the other hand, the cheese is a bit harder in the fridge (not yet ripe) get it out earlier and let it warm, it'll still be great.
Hope you manage to find some and enjoy it for yourselves...
By the way, the current favourites, in no particular order, are:
Stilton - Colston Basset, after much consideration, is the favourite
Comté - As long as it's over 18 months old
Vacherin - French or Swiss, both are good
Tentation de St Félicien, see above
Brillat Savarin - Cut in half and stuffed with truffle this becomes Brillat Truffé, a Matt and Jen favourite
I am intending at some point to write more posts about cheese, the above will inevitably get at least a post each dedicated to them.