Reviews, recipes, ramblings and other gourmet bites. A food blog of indulgence...

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Tentation de Saint Félicien

Matt here,

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
A question that I'm often asked is "What is your favourite cheese?" - A difficult question, I imagine akin to asking a parent which is their favourite child. The answer, as I imagine all good parents would acknowledge, is clearly dependent on mood, environment, time of day and whatever other food and wine is being, has been, or is about to be consumed at the time.

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.


  1. Hi. I am planning to serve a cheese platter for a birthday party. La tentation will be there so as many other original choices like Pecorino Moliterno al tartufo. The only hard cheese with black truffles. Since you wrote that you like Brillat Savarin aux truffes, you may want to try that one as well (oustanding with Madiran or Barolo). My question is, what wine do you serve with La tentation. Was thinking of Saint-Estephe. Any suggestions ? many thanka. Agnieszka from Belgium.

  2. Hi Agnieszka, thank you for your comment and recommendation, I will be sure to check out the Pecorino Moliterno al tartufo - it sounds great!

    I find that pairing wine and cheese is a particularly difficult (although eminently enjoyable) task. I used to firmly believe in the marriage of red wine with all cheese but I've had a change of opinion in recent years and now often favour whites for all but the most pungent of cheeses.

    In the background of the photo, you can see a bottle of Pouilly Fumé - I find that a chilled, dry and not too fruity white is perfect for cutting through the rich creamyness of these fatty cheeses. Controversial perhaps?

    I would fear that a relatively heavy bodied wine such as a Saint-Estephe would compete with some of the subtle flavours present in the Tentation. That said, I have no doubt that Saint-Estephe would be a pleasing match I would have no complaints if it were served to me!

    I hope that you have a great Birthday!

    More cheese posts to follow...


  3. Dear Matt, many thanks for a great recommendation of Pouilly Fume with la tentation. It was excellent. We tried the cheese with Saint-Estephe as well which was good but not great. During that process with also tasted a number of wines with Moliterno al tartufo. Madiran was good but not good enough. We were slowly running out of ideas, when a friend reach out for a bottle of hydramel (French name , not sure how to translate into English) - wine made with honey and it was a real revelation. Simply superb. I know that you can buy Moliterno in London as one of my friends who lives there, buys it from a fancy cheese shop. Greetings from Belgium. Agnieszka.

  4. Hi Agnieszka,

    I'm really glad that you liked the wine match. Now that we're out in France we are finding it much easier to get our hands on some good cheeses - I haven't been able to find any of the Pecorino that you mentioned though. It sounds great and I'll definitely keep looking out for it!

    All the best from the south of France,


  5. Hi, my wife and I are eating Tentation right now in Uzés, France, where this was bought at the Intermarché grocery. It looks identical to your photo, wrapper included. It is insanely delicious. The right word is glorious.

    I am glad we will not find this on the States, as we would probably die 10 years earlier from eating it in both cheese and butter circumstances, I.e. 3x a day.

  6. In my opinion it's the best cheese ever tasted. It must be the double crème that makes the difference. I came across it first in a small market near the Pyrenees and in the local village shop but then had great difficulty finding it in Paris. My travelling companions were beginning to doubt its existence but I then found it in the Sunday morning market near Place de la Bastille, Boulevard Richard Lenoir. Only wish I'd bought more than two.

  7. I just ducked into a little épicerie in Vieux Lille and grabbed a random unfamiliar cheese to go with my baguette for dinner. Happened to be St Felicien Tentation. Such was my fromage orgasm that I fished the wrapper out of the rubbish in order to Google exactly what I had just eaten. That's how I arrived here; I'm glad my fromage radar is still accurate, but I should have known that something that tastes so good is 70% fat. It's worth it. Heaven.

  8. Matt, you've discovered our favorite cheese! The minute we land in Marseilles we head for the closest supermarket and buy at least four containers of Tenation! It is great on croissant in the am with coffee. Oooooh lala! During drinks hour with Chablis it is divine. The fancy cheese sellers will laugh at you, because they think of it as a 'supermarket' cheese. Heck! I could care less, it is the creamiest most delish cheese you can eat! A fellow fan!