Jun 7, 2014

You Don't See THAT Everyday: Darley Frotté à la Bière Brune


Walking across our bridge one day, I see a jazz band with an outdoor piano, our neighborhood crazy lady walking her electrocuted-looking crazy cat on a leash, and a man wearing a clown nose and tap-dancing with a full fish-bowl on his head. My first instinct is to say, "You don't see that every day," but of course living right by the hottest busking bridge in the city, we pretty much do.


We frequently see our neighborhood crazy lady walking her crazy cat on a leash and, but then recently out of the blue we see this guy walking his cat on a leash (is it a new trend?) and also this guy walking his train of plastic cars.


Among the real cars we spy out our window are those that are très expensive, or très old.


Beyond the ubiquitous accordian players, there are musicians that range from the more conventional (though you might wonder, just how do they carry a piano out for busking?!)...


...to the less conventional, whether it be didgeridoo or a one-man band playing "Wonderwall",...


...or people playing common instruments in uncommon ways...

...to a visiting marching band. And no, the Kamiak High School band is not the only one I've seen, just the only one I had my camera handy to capture. 

There are dancers -- tango on the quai of the Seine's left bank, Latin dancing with blow-up dolls, the tap-dance stylings of a garbage marionette, or hip-hop (here with audience participation).

There are brides (and brides and more brides, and I'll talk more about this another time)...

...and birds on an almost daily basis...

...though this is the first time I see one parked on somebody's head at a café.

And just get a load of this clown.

This doesn't even need explaining. Or at least, I have no explanation to give:

One night, we are having dinner at the table when I suddenly jump up and run to the window; I have just seen a large glowing heart float by in the night. From our balcony, we see people standing on the bridge releasing large, flame-powered balloons over the Seine.

Once in a while there's somebody actually in the Seine, most often police trainees.

We hear the clippety-clop that alerts us that the Guarde Républicaine is riding by (note the nun on cell phone) on the bridge,

but have less warning when we occasionally see the Vietnamese-style Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang contraption.

Returning home from school, the kids often stop to play with the gigantic bubbles. The bubble guy has taken to doing his new statue bit when the kiddies aren't around, however, because it makes him more money. The down side is that he claims the police are more vigilant about chasing away busking statues.


And on both ends of the peace-and-love spectrum, we regularly see both soldiers with machine guns patrolling, and masseuses making money by tips alone:
Our favorite performer, however, is Fred, a.ka. Mr. F, who lets the girls dance before his shows to draw in the audience. He has negotiated a deal with them: When people give money at the end of the show, he gets 100%; they get 0%. But when they are 18, he will give them 3%, and once they hit 21, he will give them 5% of the takings. The girls think this is very generous, indeed. Mostly, they are just happy to be an occasional part of his show. We adore Mr. F and like to stand around with him snidely critiquing the lesser magicians and performers.

Yup, it's just a typical day for us on Ile St. Louis. So instead of "You Don't See THAT Every Day," perhaps I could have more accurately titled this posting "YOU Don't See That Every Day."

THE CHEESE: Darley Frotté à la Bière Brune

Darley Frotté à la Bière Brune, which means Darley Rubbed with Brown Beer, is a variant of Darley, which is in turn an eponymous cheese from the Darley Farm on the Côte d'Emeraude (Emerald Coast) of Brittany. It's the cheese that this very high-end cheese-producing farm started with nearly 30 years ago in the mid '80s, and from the taste of it, it's quite possible that we are eating the actual first cheese; it's definitely not for the faint of heart!

Darley Frotté à la Bière Brune is a raw cow's milk cheese, aged about 2 months in the farm's own caves during which time it is regularly brushed with saumure, which is a solution of water and Guérande salt. This particular variation is, as the name suggests, also rubbed with brown beer. These factors combine to create a cheese with brown, orange, and yellow molds and, as the farm itself admits, "an unforgettable odor!" I'll say. The taste is actually less powerful than the smell, but you've still got to get past the smell to taste it. One of the women we are tasting with immediately exclaims that this cheese "smells just like the ears of my dog Ebony!" I have never smelled Ebony's ears, so I can't verify this claim, but it sounds about right to me.

The texture is creamy and melts in the mouth, and if you like to brave very strong cheeses, it's certainly of a very high quality. The farm advises you to try it with some hard cider, and while a glass of wine might go well with the original, it's clear that a beer-washed cheese would best be eaten with beer. It can also be used for cooking, as it would melt very nicely, though in this case I advise a very strong kitchen fan and a good airing-out for a few days.

It's an unusual cheese in many ways. First of all, it's produced in small batches and it's rare to find it in the stores, so, quite literally, you don't see THAT everyday. Then to have a cheese washed with beer is also highly unusual, especially in France where wine is king. We eat this cheese in the courtyard of a castle, which is certainly an out-of-the-ordinary event for us. And, finally, to have a cheese described to me by a fellow taster as smelling like the ears of her dog? I don't hear THAT everyday.


  1. Hey! I'm a Senior this year in the Kamiak band! we came to Paris my freshman year and I just discovered were on here and this just made my life! I'm going to share this on our Facebook page!

    1. So glad you came across this. What a great memory for you (and me: you guys were great -- almost certainly the best, most colorful, fullest marching band I've seen here behind Notre Dame)!


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