Touring Strasbourg: Stinky Cheese and Sauteed Mushrooms

Our final full day in France has brought me to a bit of reflection: If there is one thing we learned during this journey, it’s how to eat.
You guessed it, "yaourt" is "yogurt"!

(If there are two things we learned, the second is that if there is ever a time in your life where cheese will be forced upon you every day for nearly 90 days, just let it happen, man. Just let it happen.)

After a light breakfast at Sarah’s home, we set out for the Strasbourg Saturday Market in the center of town. Not to be waylaid by the antiques, art, and general knickknackery, we went straight for the food stalls.

There is a time, you might remember, when our lady France unfolded her typically-crossed arms, considered something in the palm of her hand, and slowly, cautiously, held out a guarded secret to the chowgypsy. The secret was cepes, or fresh porcini mushrooms. And now that I was in on this secret, these beautiful rarities were not to cross my path again unnoticed. So it was that a sort of internal alarm went off as I saw what I very much imagined fresh, whole porcinis would look like…and that’s precisely what they were. Within five minutes, with one paper bag full of porcinis, and another with white and golden chanterelles, we had decided we wouldn’t be going out to dinner that night.
fresh chanterelle mushrooms
Porcinis are a game-changer. Respect.
italian market strasbourg
I want to go to sleep on this.
don't judge me.
italian food strasbourg
With good reason, the Italian delicatessen Spagna doesn't carry Epoisses. But yowza look at that parmigiano reggiano!
Now that I had found what I didn’t realize I had been searching for, it was time to find something I that had set out to find upon our return to France: Epoisses.  We found this second essential at the boutique of La Cloche a Fromage.
La Cloche a Fromage
Hey info tidbit: The orange color of washed-rind cheeses is a result of a specific bacteria
 that also happens to cause these cheeses to reek
Leading me out of the bleak world in which only cheddar, Swiss, gouda, and parmesan exist (not that they are necessarily bad company), Matt Caputo, from Caputo’s Market in Salt Lake City, UT, introduced me to Epoisses.

In fact, I can credit Matt for introducing me to the whole world of cheese. He was the keymaster. He gave me the confidence to take all those hours I’d spent nerding out to cheese and general food non-fiction (who does that??) and proudly go forth with the fact that I am freakishly excited about food. Perhaps his tutelage is one of the reasons I am on this overseas exploration today.
La Cloche a Fromage
Hey dad, can I have $1,000?
At any rate, with our precious cargo in tow, we stopped for lunch at Sarah’s favorite pizza place: Come a Roma, where (are you ready for this?) you can buy your pizza buy the gram. Ahhh, such beauty. Choose from their 15+ topping options and they'll cut off a piece according to your size request with special pizza-cutting scissors (!!). You can buy as many two-bite pieces as you like. But don’t actually do that.
pizza in strasbourg
Go ahead, be that person who takes little pieces of
every flavor.
Do you really expect me to think rationally and
not buy at least five things?
We strolled around a bit after lunch, stopped at Litzler-Vogel Patisserie and bought way too much 
chocolate (in a good way). For the full account of our Strasbourg Tourism day, see this post. After a beer on the square, we headed back to Sarah’s house, where I was itching to break into our cheese appetizers and then prepare our beautiful beautiful mushrooms. 
If you don't say it, I will. We are so cute.
strasbourg market
Let's just hope that somebody  wants a pretzel today
sheep cheese france
Ossau Iraty and French fig jam. Need I say more?
I can't because I'm too busy eating.
stinky cheese
doesn't she look guess not.
When Matt introduced me to Epoisses, I recall him saying something about stinky socks and fireworks…and that alone is great way to describe this cheese. And it really does stink. It reeks. If you don't go home and put it in the bottom drawer of your fridge directly after purchasing it, you might end up on a warm boat tour of the canal city you happen to be visiting, worrying about when the people around you will begin to notice that something from the general vicinity of where you’re sitting is emitting the smell of what would waft from a dumpster inhabited by a family of obese cats that feed off of rotten curry and onions and bed upon Paula Deen’s used underwear.
epoisses and bread
Yup, it smells so bad it gets its own plate.
And yet it tastes so. damn. good. I don’t know how it’s possible. I don’t question it. See my cheese page for the full review.

If I accidentally managed to turn you off to our dear Epoisses, you can count on Ossau Iraty ("oh-so ee-rah-tee," pictured above left) to pick up the slack. 

Onward to the mushrooms.
fresh chanterelle mushrooms
How does something that looks so delicate have such a strong impact on my belly?

Not wanting to drown their fresh flavor of the porcinis and white and golden chanterelles out in any way, I simply threw a tablespoon (or two?) of butter on medium heat, let it heat up, added some chopped garlic, then added my mushrooms about a minute later (which had been cleaned and cut into relatively similar two-ish inch pieces). In an ideal world, I would have worked in batches (since mushrooms have a high water content, if you throw them in a pan together, all that escaping water will cause the ‘shrooms to steam each other instead of browning), but excitement got in the way. Throw on a pinch of salt and pepper. Toward the end, add your chopped flatleaf (maybe 1 tbsp per every cup mushrooms). Sautee them for 5-10 minutes, or until they darken and take on that luscious meaty look. Taste along the way, be not afraid.
sauteed mushrooms
chanterelle mushrooms
With the mushrooms ready, we pulled out some leftover Pad Thai from the night before and went to chow town.
authentic pad thai
So it's not the most French thing we could've eaten, but I like going out with a little rebellion.
We closed out the night with desserts. Yup, plural. Macaroons, éclairs, dark chocolate mousse tortes...for the record, most were miniature versions, but what they lacked in individual size, they made up for in collective bulk. They really made up for it.

What a perfect way to say goodbye to France.



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