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Feb 22, 2014

When Fur-rance Fur-reezes: Doux Chêne

THE STORY:

It's been a mild winter so far, and right now it feels like premature spring. But when the thermometer dips to freezing and below in Paris, you can walk outside at any time and see women (mostly of-a-certain-age) in their fur coats and hats.

 

Russian style furs, black furs, brown furs, real furs, fake furs, fur linings, fur accents, ermine furs, sable furs, mink furs (oh, who am I kidding? You know I don't know the different types of furs...).

Perhaps many of them are handed down from previous generations, which is what I like to believe when I see them.

The following photos are taken in a 10-minute-or-so span on a very cold day:

 
 
 
Well, they can't all be inherited furs, because I see this display at the Bon Marché, one of the snazziest department stores in Paris. It's a PETA nightmare! Given the prices, I'm guessing it's all real.
 
 
 
One of the girls' school teachers wears a full-length fur coat that she tells me she bought at Emmaüs (like a Goodwill or Salvation Army store) for 15€ or about $20. Besides being on a teacher's salary, she prefers to buy a used coat for cheap because a) no new animals were killed for it and b) she wouldn't be as upset if somebody dumped something on her to protest the fur. I find this interesting because I've seen so much fur around the city that I had no idea anybody protested it here at all. But, in fact, she tells me that the times, they are a changin', and even in Paris, there are many people -- especially my generation and younger -- that are opposed to real fur. I do, however, see this couple stepping out of a lime green car (the whole thing screams "pimpmobile!"), awesome and gruesome down to their boots, and feel the need to include their photo in the fur gallery:


 

But not everything I'm seeing can be real fur. You know that expression, "Fur isn't fashion; it's murder"? Well, in this case, fur is most definitely the way to murder fashion. 400 each for these fake furry purses:
 

THE CHEESE: Doux Chêne
 
This beautiful little raw milk goat's cheese, which is marked "Le Monistrol du Chêne" where I buy it in the Laurent Dubois store in the Marais, is actually called "Doux Chêne" by the farmer that produces it, in Haute-Loire, central France. "Chêne" means "oaks" and is a reference to the trees surrounding the farm in in the gorges. Monistrol is simply part of the name of the town where the farm is located, and the word "doux" means sweet or soft or mild and, in this case, refers to the oaks, not the cheese.
 
 
No matter what you call it, it's a wonderful, beautiful, noticeable farmhouse cheese. The farm's herd of 140 Alpine goats pastures in the gorges of Allier in the summer, and is fed mountain hay in the winter.
 
 
Doux Chêne -- or Monistrol du Chêne -- is very full-flavored, savory, and goaty with a lovely acid tang at the finish. It's a thick, solid, sliceable fist-sized brick of a cheese, and the creaminess comes through after you put it in your mouth and let it melt. Do not, under any circumstances, pass up the crust. Though the mold may be slightly intimidating, especially when it's been aged at the upper end of its 2-3 week ripening period, it adds a wonderful texture to the cheese: the tiniest hint of chew and fuzz, sort of like a very fine peach skin.
 
THE CONNECTION:

When aged, these little goat bricks get downright furry! Especially the older ones look like they're wearing little fur coats -- but fur coats for which no animals had to die; all fur-causing bacteria are alive and kicking (and still getting furrier).

 

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