While we Hot Knives are mostly proselytizing beer and vegan food, we occasionally regress into fru-fru indulgences on the lactic/enological side. The golden hours portrait above was one of those moments where our collective epicurean id utterly trounced our vegan superego. What you see on your screen is what’s known as a perfect marriage between two fermented fiends. The beverage is a Muscadet produced at the Chateau Mercrediere, a castle in the Loire Valley. The cheese is L’Aigle Noir, quite literally the best Roquefort in the world.
Roquefort, a bleu veined ewe’s milk cheese from Roquefort-suz-Souzon, is widely known as one of the Kings of cheese. Of the 500 plus cheeses made in France, this blue bully is certainly one of the most recognizable to the connoisseur and the layman alike. Unfortunately, as with the other Kings of cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano, Brie de Meaux, and Stilton, Roquefort has been commodified and redefined as tepid sour crumbles that lay atop crappy salads. Like the other big three; it has become a supermarket cheese which obscured its epic history, and its goddamn transcendental flavor.
Like many French cheeses, Roquefort’ origin is tied to a quaint little story involving a shepherd and a lady. The young shepherd, so the story goes, settles down at the mouth of a cave to eat his lunch of rye bread, ewe’s milk cheese and presumably booze of some kind. Between bites he spies a beautiful girl off in the fields. Substituting one desire for another, he runs after her leaving his food to the elements. The elements somehow combined the mold which grew on the bread with the fresh sheep’s cheese and three months later, after botching his new relationship, the shepherd returned to find the first piece of Roquefort.
The wedge gracing our blog has been hand made by the second smallest (of eight) Roquefort collective in France, led in name and blood by Jaques Carles, a 96 year old hard-ass. True to form the rot that impregnates the multitudinal crevasses of this bight white cheese is grown on loafs of rye bread. Every other producer uses lab cultured penicilium roqueforti to make their wheels blue. Carles’ Roquefort is widely know as the best available outside France, the smallest producer Le Vieux Berger doesn’t export, but the one we wolfed down the other day is even more special than his usual fare. L’Aigle Noir is a collaboration between Carles, and another type of French artisan named Chantal Plasse. Chantal is an Affineuse, which means her calling in life is aging cheeses. She selects the cream of Carles’ crop at an early stage, and then baby-sits the cheese to mature-perfection.
The most amazing thing about a great cheese, like a great wine or beer, is when it can occupy your mouth and mind for a significant about of time. A good Roquefort should take a good thirty seconds to a minute to go through the motions in your mouth. This one ranges from sweet and supple, to smokey, to sour, with a long salted butter finish. Unlike most other blues in production all over the world, Roquefort’s power lies in its perfect balance between strength and subtlety.
How does the Black Eagle taste? Platonic.
The wine was good too.
Grain: Three Philosophers
Grape: Muscadet, Sauternes, or Port