The start of the French Cheese Board’s Cheese Week in New York City, running from Feb. 21 to Feb. 26, was celebrated with a five-course lunch. Chefs from Les Mâitres Cuisiniers de France came together at Bar Boulud to celebrate the event with dishes they will feature for the week. Every one featured cheese in familiar — or unfamiliar — form. And each course was accompanied by French wines.
Chef Alexander Burger of the host restaurant, Bar Boulud, was responsible for two courses. The first, passed canapés, included a glorious black truffle goat cheese from artisanal California cheesemaker Laura Chenel, a petite breakfast goat cheese from Marin French Cheese of California, and finally a Gabietou from Mon Fromagerie in Roanne. These rich cheeses were accompanied by Champagne Brimoncourt Régence Brut, Château de Berne’s Côte de Provence rosé, and a red Bordeaux from Légende, the venerable Château Lafite’s entry into more moderately priced wines.
Chef Hervé Malivert of the International Culinary Center (ICC) presented his take on a smoked duck, goat cheese, and potato tatin. To accompany the dish was a relative newcomer to the International wine arena: Château Tourril Minervois, showing both their 2011 Panatella and their 2016 Helios.
The main course followed. It was a tour de force for Burger again. He served a braised pork shank with broccoli rabe and garlic jus, but the surprise was his pommes aligot. This potato purée got its intense creaminess and richness with the addition of comté juraflore fort des Rousses from Fromagerie Arnaud. This genre of cow’s milk cheese has the distinction of having the highest production of all French AOC cheeses, at 64,000 tons annually. The Arnaud family makes one of the best, as it has since it was founded in 1907. The wines were two more under the Légende label, a St. Émilion and a Pauillac.
What would a cheese lunch be without a cheese platter? The task of making this one fell to hef Anna McGorman of Bar Boulud (she was one of the creators of Dominique Ansel’s madly popular cronut). She chose to spotlight the work of two French cheesemakers who have taken to making cheese in America with a passion. Alouette, a brand familiar to supermarket shoppers, was represented by its Etorki Reserve and Saint Agur L’Intense. Etorki is a sheep’s milk cheese originally from the French Basque region; this one is made in Pennsylvania Amish country. Saint Agur l’intense is a mild double cream blue cheese. California’s Marin French Cheese was represented again, this time by its petite cendrée, a triple crème cheese that is dusted with ash before it develops a bloomy rind. The cheese course was accompanied by Château Massot, one of the first organic wines from Bordeaux. With it was Château La Dauphine’s Cuvée Delphis from Fronsac.
The pièce de rèsistance of the lunch may very well have been the dessert created by chef Bernard Liberatore on Manhattan’s CORE Club — a Roquefort terrine, combining a cream of the emblematic blue cheese with a remarkable flavor of spice cake and pear and a quenelle of walnut ice cream. The pear and Roquefort flavors were a great match. (The chef was kind enough to give The Daily Meal the recipe.) The perfect accompaniment to the final course of a memorable meal was a glass of Boulard Grand Solage Calvados VSOP.