Cheeses, Cheeses, Cheeses


Pattaya was visited last week by a master cheese-maker Gerard Poulard, who had flown in from France, accompanied by around 60 of his special cheeses, to share them with diners at the Pullman Pattaya Hotel G.

Everyone who likes cheese knows that the supply in Pattaya is very limited, and incidentally, very expensive, so the opportunity to taste Gerard’s cheeses was almost a once in a lifetime event!

Gerard has been coming to Thailand several times a year recently, but this was his first trip to Pattaya.

Master cheese maker Gerard Poulard.Master cheese maker Gerard Poulard.

Just as there are those people with an educated palate to be able to identify different wines from different regions, there are also people who can do the same with cheeses.  Gerard Poulard is one of these, known as a master cheese-maker, who has traveled throughout France for more than 20 years.  His expertise is now such that he can even identify the type of cow that produced the milk for the cheese, as well as cheese from goats and sheep.

Gerard knows cheeses such as “Le brin d’amour”, a ewe’s-milk cheese, “L’extase Deauvillais”, a cow’s milk cheese from Normandy, “Le Chèvre Coeur”, “Les têtons de Simone”, a goat’s milk cheese made by a farmer called Simone – and many more.  The man is an expert!

By the way, for those who enjoy the cheeses with holes, these are not produced by trained mice nibbling through the cheese, but the holes are produced by bubbles in the milk while it changes to cheese.  These are called “eyes”, and cheeses without “eyes” are called “blind.”

When “cheese” is mentioned, France can boast of more than 2000 different varieties, according to Gerard, and he would know.  France takes its cheese so seriously, there is a whole system of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC).  This means “controlled designation of origin,” and serves to protect the authenticity of cheese.  For example, for a cheese to be awarded the AOC-protected name “Cantal,” it must come from the Cantal mountains in Auvergne from the winter milk of Salers cows, made according to specific methodology, and aged a minimum of one month.  France definitely takes its cheeses very seriously!

Gerard Poulard explains some of the nuances to Dr Iain Corness.Gerard Poulard explains some of the nuances to Dr Iain Corness.

Roquefort French cheese was mentioned in 79 AD, and the genuine cheese is matured in the same caves since then.  The coloring comes from a special penicillin mold.  Roquefort is made exclusively from the milk of the red Lacaune ewes that graze on the huge plateau of Rouergue, Causses in the Aveyron.  A genuine Roquefort has a red sheep on the label.  Unfortunately, Gerard did not bring any Roquefort down with him on this trip.

Camembert cheese has a much shorter history, dating back to only 1855 when some was given to Napoleon Boneparte and as it was made in the town of Camembert, the name stuck.

Charlemagne tasted the cheese in the small city of Brie in the year 774, and liked it.  It is rumored that during the French Revolution, the last wish of Louis XVI was for a final taste of Brie.

The tasting was held in the Beach Club area of the Pullman Pattaya Hotel G, and it was a full-house of cheese enthusiasts.  Gerard ran the show, handling each of his precious cheeses as a mother would with a new baby.  His knife for cutting the cheeses was wiped after each different cheese, so nothing would alter the taste of the real thing.

At Gerard’s insistence, we sampled three goat cheeses, three sheep cheeses and then three cow’s milk cheeses.  For me, the Camembert was superb and the Rocamadour Fermier Vergne was one where you could sit with a loaf of French crusty bread and gorge oneself all evening!  We also dined from the KORT menu and the lamb stew was excellent.

Hats off to the Pullman Pattaya Hotel G for a novel and inventive evening at their Beach Club, a great venue overlooking their private beach and out over the Bay of Siam.

Look out for another of these events, and do go.  You will not be disappointed!

Pullman Pattaya Hotel G, 445/3 Moo 5, Wongamart Beach, Pattaya-Naklua Road, Soi 16, telephone 038 411 940-8, www.pullmanpattaya  Plenty of secure parking within the resort grounds.

Gerard Poulard brought out around 60 of his special cheeses.Gerard Poulard brought out around 60 of his special cheeses.

Cheeses, Cheeses, Cheeses