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Savor the Experience

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(Family Features) - The language of cheese has a decidedly French accent - Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, chèvre.

That's only natural, considering the French have created more kinds of cheese, or fromage, than any other country in the world. Right for any occasion, specialty cheeses make a beautiful presentation and offer a delectable tasting experience. Bring a sliver of the French countryside to your table with The Cheeses of France.

Parlez-Vous Fromage?

Put a French twist on your next gathering with a cheese tasting. Transport your guests to France with The Fromage Plate(tm), an easy and expressive way to bring the ambiance of fromage to the table. Savor the experience of serving The Cheeses of France by following these simple steps.

The Selection - For peak freshness and flavor, buy cheese a day or two before your event. Ask the experts for help. Your local fromager will be happy to make suggestions on complementary flavors and textures.

Presentation - Bring the cheeses to room temperature before serving. Offer diverse flavors by varying the type of milk content in the cheese, from cow's milk to goat's milk to sheep's milk. Also mix the textures from soft to hard and experiment with different shapes for a stunning visual presentation. Remember, it's about quality not quantity. A delicious cheese board should showcase three to five cheeses. For the best sampling experience, start with the mildest cheese arranged at 12 o'clock and continue clockwise around the cheeseboard finishing with the most pungent and complex product.

Pairings - Keep in mind, the cheese is the star. Choose pairings that will complement your cheese selections. Try thinly sliced apples or pears, freshly cut figs, blackberries, golden raisins or other fresh or dried fruits. Nuts complete the healthy offering and add a little crunchiness to the sampling experience. Go gourmet with quince paste, plum butter or chutney on the side. Drizzle a little honey on robust cheeses for a dash of sweetness. Toast points, fruit and nut crostini or thin slices from a baguette can be offered as well. When choosing breads and crackers, select mild styles that won't compete with the cheese's flavor. And, when you think of serving wine, be creative with whites or reds.

For more information about The Cheeses of France visit CheesesofFrance.com.

The land, the traditions, the character of French cheese

How do you describe The Cheeses of France? The range of flavors and aromas are countless - fresh, nutty, bloomy, grassy, robust, meaty, fruity, earthy. At the heart of The Cheeses of France experience is the concept of terroir, a French word that literally means "land," but translates into so much more. Terroir is what makes the cheeses of each French cheesemaking region unique. Terroir is the soil, the climate, the ancient breeds and cheesemaking traditions influencing the taste and character of each variety of cheese. Some feature the "Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée" designation that certifies and promotes the unique qualities of their regional terroir.

Aging does wonderful things to cheese. An ancient art of maturing cheese to allow flavors to blend and intensify, affinage, or aging, is critical to the French cheesemaking process. Many varieties of cheese are aged in caves cut into French hillsides or built underground.

Talented cheese ripeners known as affineurs nurture the ripening process.

SOURCE: The Cheeses of France Marketing Council

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