Brace yourselves, turophiles. McDonald's France is diving into the world of fancy cheeses with a limited-edition burger line featuring famous French cheeses, including Camembert, Comte, chevre and raclette. Yes, folks -- this means the McCamembert is soon to be very real indeed.
The Australian reports that, unsurprisingly, some French people aren't happy about it:
"We feel used," said Patrick Mercier, chairman of an association of Camembert producers from the corner of Normandy where the cheese originated. "They did this without consulting us, without even warning us that they were doing it. Like all big companies, they don't give a hoot about the craftsmen who make this sort of product."
Strong words. But will French consumers go for the cheesy burgers? In 2011, France was McDonald's second largest market behind the U.S., and in 2009, it was noted as being the country with the second highest total cheese consumption per capita.
It couldn't quite beat Greece, however, which took home first place in that category. So, McDonald's -- perhaps the McFeta burger should be next.
McDonald's France's cheese burgers will be sold for six weeks beginning February 12 for $6 (€4.50) each.
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The original gateway cheese. This bloomy rind goat cheese is tangy, soft, subtle and perfect for spreading on plain crackers. The real <em>piece de resistance</em> is the part of cheese right under the (edible) rind. It should ooze and be a little goopy -- that's how you know it's good. Make sure to serve this at room temperature -- Humboldt Fog does not taste nearly as good when it is cold. <a href="http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/store.html" target="_hplink">Buy it here</a>.
Manchego is probably the quintessential Spanish cheese. It works fabulously as an appetizer served with Marcona almonds and honey. Beginner turophiles might be slightly intimidated about sheep cheese; this is a great one to start with. It is a semi-hard cheese with a pleasant nutty taste. This is really not an overpowering cheese -- while some gateway cheeses might be risky for picky eaters, Manchego should really be no problem. There are many kinds of Manchego, start with a young manchego if you want something a bit softer and work yourself up to the more mature ones. <a href="http://www.murrayscheese.com/searchprods.asp?txtsearch=manchego&x=0&y=0" target="_hplink">Buy it here.</a>
Pecorino Ginepro is an Italian semi-hard sheep cheese soaked with balsamic vinegar and juniper. Despite what you may think, this is actually a subtle cheese -- you don't get an overwhelming amount of vinegar or juniper. Imagine a nice, salty (in a good way) cheese with a finish of fruit. Just because this is a hard cheese, do not make the mistake of grating it. Pecorino Ginepro is best served on its own, in which you keep cutting more and more off for extra bites. <a href="http://www.murrayscheese.com/prodinfo.asp?number=20255100000" target="_hplink">Buy it here</a>.
There's a few truly great melting cheeses and Comte, a French cow cheese, is one of them. Think of Comte as a mix of Gruyere and Cheddar -- great for a grilled cheese or fondue. It is sharp without being too sharp and can stand up nicely next to cured or smoked meats. Comte is very versatile compared to some other cheeses; hot or cold, grated or chunked, it will always be good. <a href="http://www.murrayscheese.com/prodinfo.asp?number=20320900000" target="_hplink">Buy it here.</a>
Mt Tam is Cowgirl Creamery's -- a California-based artisanal cheese company -- signature cheese. Imagine a creamier brie and you get Mt Tam. This is a rich cheese, one for people that seriously love dairy. If butter had a cheese form, Mt Tam would be it. <a href="http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/prodinfo.asp?number=2011CG" target="_hplink">Buy it here.</a>
Another equally excellent buttery bloomy rind cheese is Moses Sleeper from the Cellars at Jasper Hill in Vermont. This is a bit softer than Mt Tam, and also one of those that really shines at room temperature. Consider this for a cheese plate -- it's a good one to get people started with when they are delving into lots of different kinds. <a href="http://www.murrayscheese.com/prodinfo.asp?number=20313700000" target="_hplink">Buy it here.</a>
Blue cheese is especially scary (ugly mold! eek!), and often the last type of cheese beginner curd nerds sample. For the intimidated, Stichelton is where you should start. Made in England, Stichelton doesn't have the overwhelming pungent aroma that some serious blues like Roquefort can. It is a starter blue, and one that teaches the basic characteristics of a blue cheese, most noticeably that the flavor is actually really good, once you get past the smell. <a href="http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=1937" target="_hplink">Buy it here.</a>
We would be remiss not to mention Parmigiano-Reggiano, Italy's so-called King of Cheese. This is not to be confused with Kraft Parmesan, which is an entirely different beast. Parmigiano-Reggiano should be purchased in wedges, not pre-grated -- it loses its flavor. While it is acceptable and usually encouraged to grate it over pasta (we recommend a cacio e pepe, or just a simple pasta/butter/cheese dinner), Parmigiano is also really excellent just by itself. Get one that is aged at least 18 months to truly appreciate the nutty, caramel notes. Our favorite part is definitely the crystals inside the cheese which make a fun texture as you chew. Buy it...at most supermarkets and specialty stores.
It's a great name, and a great Spanish cheese (goat, obviously). Drunken Goat is a semi-firm cheese that, as the name suggests, goes quite well with wine (try a red that isn't too tannic). The cheese is soaked in wine for 48-72 hours, giving the pasta a fruity aftertaste combined with a slight tanginess found often in goat cheeses. <a href="http://www.murrayscheese.com/prodinfo.asp?number=20025700000" target="_hplink">Buy it here.</a>
We saved Gorgonzola Dolce for last because although it is definitely still classified as a gateway cheese, you'll be ready for some more serious stuff. After you've mastered Gorgonzola Dolce, we're going to officially declare you a bona fide cheesehead. Usually when people think of Gorgonzola, they imagine that crumbled blue stuff on top of a spinach salad. While that is one type of Gorgonzola, it is a totally different animal than the Dolce version. Dolce -- which means "sweet" in Italian -- is a fitting description for this blue cheese. It is super gooey (use a cracker, hard to eat the cheese without one) and much sweeter than the piquant salad topping. Gorgonzola Dolce may not be the prettiest to look at, but there's a reason to be an ugly duckling sometimes. Gorgonzola Dolce is the beautiful swan of Italian mountain cheeses. (Yeah, we went there). <a href="http://www.igourmet.com/shoppe/Gorgonzola-Dolce.asp?cat=&subcat=&cf=usp_ListSpecifiedProducts_Sel&cprod=7633,981S,A276,251S,250S,6040,3999,7587,035,058,2383,G202,G205,246,1580" target="_hplink">Buy it here.</a>