I first had Chaource on my gay cruise* in France. I loved it then and I love it now. It’s a cow’s milk cheese made in small rounds, usually sold as a piece, which is fine for a cheese plate for about six.
(If you don’t eat it all, it’s OK: just make sure you wrap up the remainder in a new wrapper – cheese paper or I like Press n’ Seal – and eat it within a week. As long as you keep the air out and use new wrapping every time you re-wrap it, it shouldn’t spoil.)
Don’t be put off by the smell as you taste it: if you don’t like smelly cheeses you might veer away, but trust me, it’s not as pungent as its smell. The center is soft, heavy and has the strongest taste, bold and buttery. The outer edges are milder and slightly crumbly, somewhat like your average goat cheese in texture. The rind is thin, white and edible.
Since we were having a cheese and charcouterie picnic dinner, we went with a light red wine and the Chaource held its own nicely. Artisinal recommends champagne as the ideal pairing and that sounds fine too. For a balanced cheese plate, I’d do this + a hard cheddar + a blue and walk away happy. If you’re partial to milder cheeses, maybe sub this in for your medium-strong option and do a light goat, this and a mild blue, like Point Reyes.
Remember to take your cheeses out of the fridge an hour or so before serving. This is especially critical with soft cheeses like this one: Chaource will not be a treat when it’s cold and, as a result, hard.
*Me + R + our friend John + fourteen of his closest gay friends on a barge through the canals of Burgundy. (Re)convinced us we don’t like traveling in groups and we don’t like package tours, but it was worth a shot and we needed a holiday badly. Best part: three different cheeses a night at dinner.