There is a fabulous cheesemonger in the Nantes region called Beillevaire. They have a couple of shops in Nantes, one in the Talensac market, and one in the centre next to the Place royale, and also sell on various markets in the region.The staff is usually very knowledgeable and helpful. In addition to selling various fabulous cheeses they make their own cheese in Machecoul (20 mn south of Nantes). They started off as farmers 30 years ago, and were looking for an outlet for their products so started selling on local markets. They then started selling other cheeses, and now they have shops all over France and just opened one in London (who said you can’t be an entrepreneur in France?!).
One of the cheeses they produce is called Brun de noix. And my opinion is that it’s gorgeous!!! It’s made from cows milk (obviously unpasteurized, no serious french fromager would go for pasteurized cheese), it’s washed with walnut liquor, matured for a couple of months. The smells are very strong and nutty, nearly overwhelming (my wife couldn’t get past the smell), the flavours in the mouth are again very nutty with strong hints of oak, and some nice fresh milk flavours to create a perfect balance.
It was lovely with some bread on its own, but went well with tomatoes, and I tried it with beetroot as I had some left in the fridge and it worked nicely too.
Beillevaire recommends trying it with some Chinon wine, which I think is a good local pairing. I wouldn’t mind trying it with Madeira and see how that works out.
All in all I give this cheese a 9 out of 10.
My 14 month old boy made a weird face (probably the initial smell) but then ate some but not as eagerly as he would have comté, so I guess it’s a 6 out of 10 for him.
And my wife went Euuuurrrgggghhhh and couldn’t get over the smell so I give it a 1 out of 10 from her. The point is for the comical effect of Euuuuuuurrrrggggghhhhh.
So there you go, probably a bit of a controversial one, but an absolute must if you like strong nutty flavours in your cheese.