Tag Archives: rodolphe meunier

Purely arbitrary cheese obsession of the week: Buerre de Baratte

One of the recurring posts I’ve often made here is “Gordon’s purely arbitrary cheese obsession of the week.” Now, I guess it’s not really “purely arbitrary.” Usually I have already decided to buy it for the store so of course I think it is really good. I just use that phrase so that folks who make similar cheeses won’t get mad thinking that I am claiming one cheese is the best when they feel they could make an argument for theirs.

And fair enough… some cheeses are more consistent than others, different cheeses appeal to different palates, some cheeses have 1000 years of history while some have a few months. No, I highlight these cheeses because I am personally obsessed with them at the moment. They are what I am buying for home, often multiple days in a row. Usually they are things I also think are a little underrated, though not always.

And this week, as a switcheroo, I am not even choosing a cheese for “Gordon’s purely arbitrary cheese obsession of the week,” I am choosing a butter.

When we did our store remodel last year, the cheese department took over the non-local butters. Part of the reason we wanted to do that, beyond evangelizing for the amazingness of butter, especially cultured butter, was this:


The Buerre de Baratte by Rodolphe Meunier is amazing butter. It’s churned, cultured, and full of sea salt crystals. It is deep yellow and even has a cow embossed on every wheel. I have been buying extra bread at home just so I can eat more of this butter.

I accidentally bought five tubs of this amazing creation last week for the store because I misread an email and though I was buying cases of the 250g wheels. Oops… not oops. We’ve been wrapping and selling these food-service intended beauties and sampling it out like crazy. Customers are blown away when they try this, partly because they don’t often get offered samples of butter at a cheese counter.


I’m writing this on my day off, but I am thinking of going to the store just to buy more of this today.


Rodolphe Le Meunier cheese

There is an ongoing and spirited debate about affinage in the cheese community. The New York Times weighed in a couple of years ago and other articles and discussions followed. I even got asked by the local foodies. I said, “Meh”.

However when it comes to the cheeses aged by Rodolphe Le Meunier, I can see the beauty of having a talented cheese ager. The ripened and ashed goat cheeses we buy under his name are the best French ones we have had in years. His Jeune Autize, Puits d’astiers, and Tome des Pyrenees are better than versions I have had by others, including the original producers in one case. And his 30th Month aged Comte that we tried at the Fancy Food Show. OMG. It may be too expensive for us to ever sell, but I will forever cherish that cheese memory.

Here is the man at the Fancy Food Show:

Some of his cheese including the Jeune Autize

While I think that a lot of folks talk about their “affinage” as a pure marketing ploy, Meunier is the real deal. He’s an M.O.F. (Master Artisan), 2007 World Cheesemonger Champion, and from five generations of cheesemakers. While I have mocked or “meh”ed “affinage” in the past, I want to make clear that this is the, the kind of cheesemaking tradition that is worth paying for most of the time.

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Tome des Pyrenees

This week my purely arbitrary cheese obsession of the week is the Tome des Pyrenees affinaged by Rodolphe Meunier.


It’s bark-wrapped raw cow’s milk from Basque country. Unlike most bark-wrapped cheese it is not oozy, but semi-soft, at least the versions in the U.S. Now that Americans (myself included) have proven to themselves that they can enjoy strong cheeses, I hope that cheese like this can come into popularity. Tomme des Pyrenees is not strong at all, it’s the — sometimes confounding to shoppers — epitome of a cheese that is mild, but complex.

It’s earthy, woodsy, rich, fruity and just an all around pleasure to eat. You have to take a second to appreciate it because the flavor does not all show itself at once. If you bring it to room temp and let the cheese linger on your tongue, you will be rewarded with a cheese you will keep tasting because 1. You will be trying to isolate all the different flavor aspects and 2., it is just an awesome experience.

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