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Oct 28, 2014

How to Scare Newbies: Bicaillou

THE STORY:

It's almost Halloween for some of you. For the French among you, it's almost All Saint's Day. And for the Hispanophones, it's almost Day of the Dead. No matter how you look at it, it's a spooky time of year, and so I figured I'd show you the easiest, cheesiest way to spook people with fromage.

Some are scary because, amoeba-like, it looks like they're trying to ooze their way out.

 
Le Brulon de Vigneron and Rouelle de Tarn
 
 Coeur du Camembert au Calvados and Affidelice (Chablis/ Epoisses/ Chambertin)
 
They're bursting out of their blackish skins. But on a dark and stormy night, you might want a truly dark and moldy cheese. On the Argolay, the mold will even brush off and stain your fingers.
 
 
  
 
If the mold seems scarier than the black ash, you could try these fuzzy, bumpy science experiments.
 
 
Tomme de Brebis Lochoise and Crottin du Berry
 
  

Or, if ash and mold isn't creepy enough, go for something that screams "burned at the stake":


To the uninitiated, some cheese are just plain frightening in concept:

 
Mimolette (holes eaten into cheese by mites) and Le Cavalli (partially made of mares' milk)

Cheese is the one area where just about any color of the rainbow is scary: brown, red, orange, blue:

 
 

And what were they thinking when they filled the cheese with this stuff?!

 
 
THE CHEESE: Bicaillou
 
Bicaillou seems to be a cheese with a split personality. Sometimes it is gray-ashed and mild looking, and then suddenly -- kabam! -- it's on fire. This red, orange, yellow, pumpin-and-flame-colored cheese comes from raw goats' milk. It's a farmhouse cheese, the one I buy made specifically at the Ferme Chevrieux in Touraine -- in central France.
 
 
Most of the grayish Bicaillou, however, are made in the department of Corrèze in the region of Limousin, about 300 km south. Both are lactic cheeses, aged and sold either in squares (modeled after the cobblestones of the Corrèze region) or cut in half into triangles (just for the fun of it, as far as I can tell).
 
The tamer gray version is known to have a lightly goaty, fresh taste with subtle hints of hay. The orange version, I can tell you from experience, is not nearly as powerful as the color would lead you to believe, but I also wouldn't call it subtle. It's a bold taste, wonderfully fragrant and farmy. And the texture is silky and unctuous.
 
 
THE CONNECTION:
 
When I serve the Bicaillou to my family and the visiting family of a dear high school friend, nobody can remember the name. So, the entire table starts referring to it as the "vomit cheese", as in "Please pass the vomit cheese" or "Ooh, that vomit cheese is yummy." And why not? It's as if the Bicaillou, and the rest of these cheeses may be enough to terrify the novice French cheese eater, is in a Halloween costume: scary in appearance, but harmless enough on the inside.

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