Today was the annual Diplomatic Community Christmas Bazaar. Hundreds of people flock to this event every year to find those unusual presents which will bring a gasp of delight to someone’s Christmas, when they unwrap a spectacular Indian shawl, or an exquisitely painted Persian jewel box, or some splendid hand-carved statue from Nigeria.
I didn’t go for that, though. I went for the food.
After an hour’s wait I marched through the door with one thought in mind; French Cheese. There was Camembert, Livarot, Brie, Boursin, Roquefort, Pont L’Evecque… the smell was reminiscent of a farmer’s outhouse, the musty, dusty smell of straw and that elusively sweet/stinky odour of fermented curds.
I was almost first in line, and left five minutes later with a Camembert, a Brie, a Caprice de Dieux, a foul-smelling Pont L’Evecque and a Rouy.
I was going to leave straight away, but could not resist a couple of real Cuban cigars, some Austrian beer and four bottles of Bajan Hot Sauce. ( Boy, are those scrambled eggs going to burn tomorrow!!)
From there I drove to the best bakery in town and bought some fresh, crusty bread.
Once at home, the cheese was cut and left on a plate to acclimatise, whilst I dribbled all over the bottle of wine I was opening, eagerly anticipating little mouthfuls of heaven.
The Brie was soon running all over the plate, creamy, rich, smooth and simply pleading to be eaten. The Pont L’Evecque was not quite ripe, since it barely smelled of old socks – never mind, it’ll be positively disgusting by Christmas.
I’d never tried the Rouy. It’s a creamy cheese from Burgundy, with an orange rind. As I cut it open, it reminded me very vaguely of a Port Salut with bubbles in it. It was creamy, a little firmer than the others, but absolutely spectacular, especially in this country where all you can find is Dutch, Spanish and Italian cheeses.
Half a bottle of wine and one medium fresh loaf later, I’d died and gone up there, where the mountains are made of Farmhouse Cheddar, the lowlands are made of mascarpone and the trees have leaves made of Stilton, Feta, Caerphilly and goat cheese. Only the rivers are red and white; Merlot, Sauvignon, Frascati, Rioja and Vinho Verde.
A little bit of what you fancy does you good, eh?