Cheese lovers can be found on every continent in the world. The British have their sharp and crumbly cheddar, the Spanish have their nutty manchego and recently there has even been a movement towards artisanal, hand-crafted cheese in the US, where industrial orange Velveeta™ was previously the norm.
However, for real savoir faire when it comes to cheese-making, people look towards France. There are no fewer than 350 distinct types of French cheeses on the market today and countless fromagers crafting and refining their product with various degrees of excellency. However, even within the crowded French cheese market there are certain producers who rise to the top and become known in the gourmet world as having the pinnacle product.
Les Freres Marchand is one of these companies.
World Record Cheesemongers
From the Rabelais d’or trophy for French Gastronomy to being voted “Traditional Cheesemaker of the Year” by the Pudlowski Guide in Paris, the master cheesemongers and ripeners in Nancy, France have enjoyed world-wide acclaim due to the numerous awards and honours bestowed on them. In addition, Les Freres Marchand holds the Guiness World Record for the largest cheese platter ever prepared, with 730 different varieties of cheese presented.
Ancestral Recipes Arrive at La Villa
La Villa French Restaurant is proud to be the first restaurant in Vietnam to introduce a selection of Les Freres Marchand’s finest fromage. Following in the footsteps of the top Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, La Villa has chosen la crème de la crème of cheese suppliers to provide the selection for its famous cheese trolley.
Like La Villa French Restaurant, Les Freres Marchand is a family-run company that is based on a passion for top quality. Since 1880, the Marchand family has passed down its ancestral recipes for creating and ripening cheese through four generations. Philippe Marchand, one of the three Marchand brothers who currently runs Les Freres Marchand, has preserved certain recipes such as brie stuffed with Perigordian truffles, and has invented others, like the wasabi-flavoured goat’s cheese.
The Work of an Expert
The path to creating a flavourful cheese is much more complicated than many consumers know. Contrary to an industrial cheese that basically just requires mixing dairy products with salt in massive machines and then wrapping the result in plastic, a real fromage is a labour of love. True connoisseurs speak of cheese in much the same way that a sommelier might talk about wine—from a Beaufort with a “fruity, salted flavour and floral aromas” to the AOP Brie de Melun that has “an aromatic bouquet”—the language used to describe the cheese shows the attention to detail that the brothers have for their product.
The Freres Marchand are known for their expert affinage. This means that they scour France for the best producers of cheese, collecting excellent bries and camemberts, munsters and St. Nectaires from wherever they happen to be made—be it on a traditional farm or in the back country home of an Orthodox monk—then ripen the cheese to perfection. To make the selection for a Comté, for example, they can taste up to 12,000 different types in order to select 2,000 for ripening.
This is when the magic happens.
The cheeses are brought to Les Frere Marchand’s stockhouses where with the perfect combinations of temperature and humidity the cheeses are left to mature. This is an artform that takes a hefty dose of both patience and knowledge. Like a fine wine that is left too long in the bottle and passes its peak, an excellent cheese must be eaten at just the right moment. It is a delicate, seasonal food and should be treated as such.
Chef Thierry Mounon describes the cheeses he has selected for La Villa from Les Freres Marchand as “the Rolls Royce of fromage”.
La Villa’s Top Cheeses
Over the course of the next six months, La Villa French Restaurant will be rolling out up to 40 different types of cheese, which will be rotated based on seasonality and the current menu. To date, among other selections, there is a stand-out brie available that is creamy and rich with subtle nutty flavours. It pairs perfectly with a medium bodied red wine. Just ask Chef Thierry for a recommendation from La Villa’s well-stocked wine cellar.
Now is the time to book a meal at La Villa French Restaurant, to be the first in Vietnam to taste the cheeses that have helped place many restaurants into the sacred Michelin-starred sphere.
To learn more about cheese and cheese making be sure to check the “Tips from a Master Cheesemonger” on the Freres Marchands website.