WHAT IS LANGRES?
Langres philosophy on competition from other cheeses might best be described as “Holy calamity scream insanity all you ever gonna be’s another great fan of me!” (from the 1999 Handsome Boy Modeling School album). I’m not saying that Langres is vain or anything, but it would light itself on fire to get your attention. And since you’re paying–not with anything cheap either – we’re talking a premium Armagnac or Cognac all the way.
This burnished gold cow’s milk cheese has geotrichum which makes its’ washed rind look a bit like human brain tissue. So yes, Langres is a bit touchy about its appearance. Depending on the producer the washed rind can be white or orange (annatto dye). The top of Langres has a small divot (“la fontaine”) that occurs as the cheese settles when aging. This is because that unlike other cheeeses, Langres is not flipped repeatedly during the aging process. This allows heavier parts of the cheese to settle (much like olive oil and vinegar will separate in the same bottle). The resulting depression on top is traditionally filled with one of the flammable alcohols mentioned. When lit, the heat gives a fondue texture to the top of this fromage. Langres’ top is now perfect for scooping!
WHERE IS LANGRES MADE?
This P.D.O. cheese is made in the Champagne-Ardenne region of northern France. The namesake town of Langres itself was a former Celtic capital until Julius Caesar conquered it and changed the name. Continuing this fine Italian tradition, the French government recently changed the name of this former region to the “Grand-Est”. Famous for its’ hilly terrain, vineyards and sparkling white wine, this area borders Belgium. Like much of the rest of France, a rural exodus has been occurring here for most of the younger population. The one exception might be car thieves, who hop across the border into Belgium, steal a nice Landrover, and then drive back to France.
MIDDLE AGES RETURN, WOLF VINEYARD ATTACKS ON THE RISE?
For the last few hours, wolves have been slowly expanding their hunting territory into the Champagne region of France. Grapes have remained safe but the mammals (sheep) wandering nearby, not so much. The French Alps have acted as a highway, allowing these furry eating machines access to the lowland plains where food is plentiful. While these Apex predators are great at restoring balance and harmony to the local ecosystem, they also chow down around 5,000 sheep a year. To read more about this click here!
WHAT CAN I PAIR WITH LANGRES?
White wines like Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, sparkling Champagne or even a red Pinot Noir can pair well. Also a hard fruit cider is an option, though fruity lambics can be overpowering in flavor depending on how ripe your Langres is. For a French cheese flight, look to a nice Cantal and a Brie for lovers of cow’s milk. This cheese is so much fun, though, you can also just pair it with various fruits, a nice sourdough bread and lite it on fire!