Banon Cow Chataigner 12/3.5Oz (P)
(Imported Cheeses: France)
Made in the rugged mountains of northern Provenše, this cheese proves the adage "The best things come in small packages." Made year-round of cows' milk (sheep and goats' milk are also used for some Banon), each 3.5-ounce puck is bathed in eau-de-vie (marc) to inhibit the growth of unwanted molds, then is wrapped in a fresh chestnut leaf and tied with four strips of raffia. It tastes best after having ripened for a few weeks when it's developed a smoother texture and more robust flavor; look for somewhat dry leaves with a little blue or white mold, and a texture that gives like a ripe pear when you gently squeeze it. At this point, it will taste woodsy, fruity and lactic. These make a gorgeous presentation in a cheese display or on a cheese plate, and retailers might remind their customers Banon is the perfect picnic cheese because it comes in its own natural wrapper! Pasteurized, AOC pending.