Pascal Francisque How To Create A Picnic Cheese Board Interview

Pascal Francisque How To Create A Picnic Cheese Board Interview

Pascal Francisque How To Create A Picnic Cheese Board Interview

France's most loved cheese brand, Président, has arrived on Australian shores with two of their signature varieties: Double Brie and Camembert.

As the number one cheese brand in France, Président's master cheesemakers have produced cheeses that have won medals in prestigious Cheese Awards across the globe.

Here Président's resident cheese expert in Australia, Pascal Francisque, shares his top tips for creating and enjoying an indulgent cheese board and drinks pairings, perfect for bringing a little -à la Français' indulgence to your summer picnic basket as racing season gets into full swing!

Interview with Pascal Francisque

Here Président's resident cheese expert in Australia, Pascal Francisque, shares his top tips for creating and enjoying an indulgent cheese board and drinks pairings, perfect for bringing a little -à la Français' indulgence to your summer picnic basket as racing season gets into full swing!

Question: Can you please share your top tips for creating a cheese board with us?

Pascal Francisque:
Pairings for Brie
When considering your accompaniments with Président's Double Brie, opt for both green and black olives, tapenades and a fruit chutney. If you want something a little more robust, consider cured meats, like Bresaola, Proscuitto Ham. When it comes to matching wines, the following work beautifully:
2013 Arrogant Frog Ribet Red Cabernet Merlot, Herault Languedoc-France
2013 M. Chapoutier Cote du Rhone Valley – France
2008 Marques de Riscal Reserve – Spain

Pairings for Camembert
The beauty of Président's Camembert, is that it goes great with either sweet or savoury. If you're feeling fruity, try it with a range of fresh fruits, including apples, pears, grapes and berries – even a little bit of honey is exquisite! For savoury seeker, it goes perfectly with cured meats and dry nuts. For the perfect wine matching try the following:
2012 Illuminati 'Riparosso" Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, DOC – Italy
2013 Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough – New Zealand
2009 Penfolds Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz – Australia

Question: What are your ideal drink pairings for Double Brie and Camembert?

Pascal Francisque:

Mix it up
Choose at least three to five cheeses of varying milk sources, colours, and textures and flavours. Choose cheese from the five following categories: fresh, bloomy, semi-soft, hard and blue. For example, with fresh goat cheese, a sheep's milk cheese, Président Double Brie or Président Camembert, a sharp cheddar and a blue cheese, you have the prime ingredients for a cheese board that is both visually exciting and impossible to resist!

Timing is everything!
The textures, tastes and aromas of speciality cheese are at their finest at room temperature, so be sure to take your cheese out of the refridgerator 30 minutes to one hour before serving on your cheese board.

Can there be too much of a good thing?
It's easy to get the quantities right if you follow this simple guideline. For pre-dinner or cocktails, allow around 30 – 35 grams of each style of cheese per person. If the cheese board is the cheese course of a dinner party, around 70 grams per person. If your cheese board is the focus of the party, plan on 150 – 200 grams per person.

Think outside the breadbox
When considering accompaniments, don't just go for the same old, same old. Opt for both green and black olives, tapenades, fruit chutneys or preserves, and mustards. Consider cured meats, like Bresola, Saucisson Sec, Proscuitto di Parma, or Serrano ham. And trey sliced fresh, seasonal fruits like apples, pears and mission figs.

Let the cheese be the star
Strong flavoured and filled breads can overwhelm the flavours of the cheeses you have so carefully selected. So choose fresh, plain breads like baguettes (both sweet and sour), plain crackers, breadsticks or lavosh bread.

Start mild, finish strong
Beginning at the six o'clock position and going clockwise, arrange cheeses from mildest to strongest. For example, start with a soft, fresh goat's milk cheese, progress to a Double Brie, then move into more flavourful washed rind, hard, and finally, blue cheeses.

Slice it right
Ideally, each cheese portion should have a part of the rind. Softer cheeses should be sliced lengthwise into wedges with a butter knife or small paring knife, while harder cheeses should be sliced with a chef's knife or micro plane slicer pulled across the flat surface to obtain paper-thin slices. Use a cheese cutting wire to glide through harder varieties, and spoon soft, runny cheeses into small bowls.

Cheese board presentation
Presentation is key. Try using a large rustic wooden board, or even a marble or slate slab. You want to ensure you have levels of height and various colours – this will make your cheese board stand-out. Don't forget some blueberries and red quince paste to bring some -a la Francais' indulgence to your cheese board.

Question: Can you please describe your ideal cheese board, to us?

Pascal Francisque: My ideal cheeseboard would be one that best exemplifies the beauty and richness of various cheese textures and flavours; one which will account for, and appeal to most peoples' palates. It would have to feature either Président's Double Brie or Camembert for their creamy and runny textures, a sharp cheddar for its hard and crumbly texture and a blue cheese for its punchy flavour. Teaming these up with a delicious array of green olives, mission figs, pears, cured meats and walnuts will create a beautiful, vibrant cheeseboard, perfect for entertaining with a range of textures when accompanied with breadsticks. A flavoursome cheeseboard is a fun way to live a little more -à la Francais', so don't be afraid to experiment. Bon appétit!

Question: How important is it to match your wine to your cheese?

Pascal Francisque: Matching your cheese to your wine is incredibly important but all too often overlooked by entertainers and party hosts. Cheese is created in an abundance of flavours; whether it be earthy, fruity or nutty, so it's important that the wine you choose compliments these rather than overpowering. For example, a delicious, strong Cheddar is best suited with Cabernet Sauvignon as it is also quite strong on the palate, while a delicious, soft Camembert is great paired with a fresh, light Champagne or dessert wine. So, to sum it up, my key tip for any beginner is to ensure that there is balance!

Question: Do you have a favourite cheese?

Pascal Francisque: My personal favourite would have to be Brie. It's not only rich in soft tones, but in history as well! Did you know that it was hailed as the -King of Cheeses' at the Congress of Vienna in 1814? Brie is just one of those cheeses that can do no wrong, whether you serve it on a cheeseboard or bake it with some figs. I believe that cheese is meant to please people and what a crowd pleaser a delicious ripe Brie it is!

Question: What is the difference between Double Brie and Camembert?

Pascal Francisque: Most people ask me this and it's not surprising why! While the two may look the same, there are a key differences to note, including fat content and flavour. Brie is creamier than Camembert due to its high fat content, while the lower fat content in Camembert allows the flavour of the cheese to come through bolder and stronger. Maturation is also an important factor that gives the two cheeses their distinct characteristics. Camembert will change as it ages; it is first a firm, dry cheese, which then transforms into a softer, gooier cheese as it matures. Brie on the other hand changes less over its 60-day shelf life and is best enjoyed two weeks after purchase.

Question: Recent studies have shown that cheese is addictive as some drugs; do you believe that?

Pascal Francisque: I have read a few reports relating to this, all of which have stated that this is due to the casein that exists in the cheese. This is a fascinating finding and I'm not too sure what to think. Of course there is that saying that -too much of anything is never a good thing' so it's always best to eat in moderation and maintain a balanced diet!

Question: How does Président differ to other cheeses in the Australian market?

Pascal Francisque: Président Cheese is created with the same passion, traditional and artisan skills that have made us Number 1 in France. So, when you do choose to serve Président Cheese, you know that you're serving your guests the quality you'd expect from cheeses from Normandy or Meaux, which is why we're already winning awards across Australia for our cheese.

Question: Will Président be bringing more cheeses to Australia?

Pascal Francisque: At the moment Australian consumers can enjoy Président Camembert and Double Brie, and looking ahead there are plans to import some very special cheeses from France in 2016. We're also excited that in December this year Président cultured Normandy butter will available for a short time in Woolworths, a perfect French luxury for Christmas!

Interview by Brooke Hunter