May 5, 2016

Why am I on this Roller Coaster?: Couronne de Brebis


On a recent warm, sunny weekend day, our family finds itself in an unusual situation: no play dates, no classes, no gymnastics competitions, no social plans, no urgent homework. I want to walk and explore a new exhibit, but my family conspires against me and we instead end up at the Foire du Trône (literally Fair of the Throne). So when I ask, "Why am I on this Roller Coaster?," the question is a literal one, not philosophical. And the answer is that Anthony hits me on my weak spot: "Kazz, you can write about it: it's part of Paris history..."

In fact, the Foire du Trône -- the largest temporary fair set up in all of Europe -- has been going on annually since 957. Read that carefully: not 1957 but rather 957. That means that for over 1000 years, young children have been begging to go to the fair instead of to some boring museum exhibit.

Held every April and May, it used to take place right in the city, sponsored in various eras by monks, kings, and mayors (but never a large sneaker or soft-drink company, as far as I know). Since 1965, it's been held in the Bois de Vincennes, a huge 12th arrondissement park at the edge of eastern Paris. And no wonder. The city's a lot more crowded and built up than it was in the year 957, and ye olde faire is a lot bigger, too.


The roller coaster we try is a big one -- 4Gs, apparently. I can tell you what that means in practical terms: all of us are having our heads bashed back and forth in the padded restraining arms. Sitting next to me, Pippa screams to stick my head further out, so it won't keep ricocheting back and forth. That does help, but makes my neck sore at the same time. I would say I'm getting too old for roller coasters, but even the kids find this one a bit too bing-bang-boom-on-the-side-of-the-head for their liking.

The positive side is that from the top of all the high rides -- the water flume, the roller coaster, the flying circle -- you get a great view of the city, all the way to the Eiffel Tower, clear on the other side of the city.


There are a lot of ancient-style treats at ye olde ancient-style faire, including this colorful treat that Americans will almost certainly think is taffy being pulled. Think again: It's actually French marshmallows, called "guimauve" and not on our shopping list for the day. Unless it's being made into a s'more, none of us are big marshmallow fans.


The kids are immensely pleased that the day is completely un-educational, un-enriching, and more hysterical than historical. To be clear, I actually love amusement parks, as long as I'm avoiding all the spinny and upside-downy things that now make me want to vomit and, apparently, the head-bashy-things that, along with the constant electric hum of ye olde faire, gives me the start of a migraine. But other than that, even I will admit, it's a fun day that's part of a grand Paris tradition, and one that I would very much like to re-visit in approximately another 1000 years.

THE CHEESE: Couronne de Brebis

Couronne de Brebis, which could mean "Sheep's Crown" but of course actually means "Crown of Sheep Cheese" is made from raw sheep milk, then aged. In the case of the slice I taste at a Cheeseday expo, it's aged 9 months and is lovely indeed.

The aging gives it a sweet, nutty flavor, helped along by the grasses and flowers in the fields where the sheep graze. The cheese is rustic, with a real warmth to it that echoes its sunny, southern origins in the Aveyron department, in the region that used to be Languedoc-Roussillon and is now Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées. It's a mouthful of a region name, and it's a mouthful of cheese: between crumbly and creamy, with a hit of salt and sweet that reminds me of a classic and high quality Parmesan.

Here it is, in the back right of this platter, nestled among the dozen other cheeses I'm tasting.


I pair these two together because of the throne in the name of the fair (Foire du Trône) and the crown in the name of the cheese (Couronne de Brebis), not because I would like to eat a hunk of this cheese right before hitting the roller coaster. That would be a royal disaster.


  1. Hi Kazz, I love your blog! Can you please tell me what's layered in the glass on this platter? Thanks!

    1. It was layers of a cream made from Caprice des Dieux cheese (I assume kept in goopy form by melting it with milk/cream), chopped fresh tomato (probably a little olive oil and salt it), and a dollop of pesto, topped with basil. I didn't make it, so I can't tell you more than that. But I did enjoy it! If you re-create it, and it's a huge success, send me the recipe... I'm glad you enjoy the blog. Merci!


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