Le Baluchon by Fromagerie FX Pichet is a bit of a rock star in the Canadian cheese case. It wasn’t hard to find at any of the cheese stores I went to and was often featured prominently. In fact, at the inaugural Canadian Cheese Awards last year (which includes goat, sheep and buffalo milk cheeses as well as cow’s), Le Baluchon won Cheese of the Year. It’s nominated this year in the organic cheese category at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix as a returning champion – it won the organic prize in 2009.
A few bites and it’s easy to see why: much like a well-loved musician, it’s a crowd-pleaser, not a people-pleaser. It’s a bit rough around the edges with a rind that’ll bite you with bitterness if caught unaware. It’s quite milky, creamy and soft, but with a slight kick of mould that’ll challenge any notions of meekness. That hint is reminiscent of a vegetable ash, like the light bitter tang you’d find in a Morbier.
The texture is incredible. Light and creamy with enough spring and chewiness to allow you to ride out the flavour. It’s crumbly without being dry in the way a snack cheese would be – don’t turn your nose up if that conjures up images of cheesestrings, you’ll be sorry.
I had it with raclette and while it stands up well melted, its subtlety is better raw or with ingredients that’s won’t overpower it. If you must melt it (please try a piece raw, too, for the texture), leave it be in a simple grilled cheese or fondue. I like it best in teeny, tiny slices, like an understated solo after a round of the greatest hits. Enjoy with a side of Sam Roberts.
This is the first profile of eight cheeses I tried ahead of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. Click here for more on the awards.