Dateline: Cannes, France
Aboard Oceania Cruise Ship, The Riviera
Our ship anchored at Cannes yesterday and remained until midnight. The city did not appear to be nearly as dramatic as Monte Carlo, but that is only what you think you see from the ship. Cannes is flatter than Monte Carlo, less densely populated and has far fewer tall buildings. Once you step onto the dock it is immediately apparent that Cannes is lively, less staid, and more artsy. This is not to say that Cannes lacks its old European characteristics. The narrow cobble stone streets in the older part of the city are the types that have been here for millennia and its Marché Forville is one of those open-stall markets found only in the older European cities.
Cannes also has a few excellent fromageries outside of the market. Knowing how those old markets and cheese shops keep the hours of operation, I knew we had to either arrive early in the day or risk being shut out until after 4:00 for the shops, or until the following morning for the market stalls.
On our way to the old market we visited some historic sights in Cannes: Musée de la Castre and the Nôtre-Dame de l’Espérance, the old museum and church at the top of the hill in Le Suquet, the oldest quarter in Cannes. Once we finally arrived the vendors were nearing the end of their day, yet the diverse aromas of June fare were still pungent. The fishmongers were mostly wrapped up (thankfully) and the butchers were long gone. What remained in the building were ripe fruits, vegetables of every color of the rainbow, fresh eggs, some cured meats, whole grain breads, nuts, olives and olive oils, and many luxurious cheeses.
I wanted so many of those cheeses, types that cannot be found US. Fortunately I had a limited amount of euros in my pocket; I would have purchased far more than I could have eaten during the remainder of this cruise. As great as all these rare cheeses are, they are not the only great cheeses in the world. (Tell the French this!)
Not that many years ago we use to be able to bring many of these Provençal cheeses into the US. No one was becoming ill from those cheeses but the regulations were not enforced as doggedly as they are today.
Provence is known for these young raw milk cheeses, the goat varieties especially. Also known for their light low-alcohol white wines and rosés, the pairing opportunities are exquisite in late June. Those young chèvres have reached their peaks, the warm weather directs our tastes to these lighter creamy cheeses and their lighter wine accompaniments.
We found an inexpensive Rosé made from Cinsault that was delightful with some of those chèvres of the region, also a surprisingly nice match for Salers, the sister cheese to Cantal in central France, and the grandmother of British cheddars. Come to think of it, this summer you might try pairing one of those Rosés from Provence with a British or American cheddar. I can’t see how it could go wrong.
The one disappointment with the Cinsault wine was a Lingot made with sheep milk. Excellent cheese but it had no synergy with this wine. Not that we have to worry about experiencing this clash, the cheese is made from raw sheep milk and aged far less than sixty days, so it is available in the US anyway.
- Max McCalmanPosted by Artisanal Cheese