La Petite France/ Erfurt

For one of my favorite establishments in Erfurt, it is quite surprising that I have never taken a picture of the restaurant La Petite France.

La Petite France in its old and new location has always been a small bistro where you could get French specialties like wine, olive oil, and cheese. It is an ideal place for a romantic evening for two, where quiet music, low lights, amazing cheese, and wine can get the mood going.

Whenever I am in the area, go there and try great cheese that I would not know of otherwise without blowing the bank. Last week I decided to try out Mimolette,  a hard, yellow cheese with cheese mites on the crust. The last time I was there, I tried a Sainte Maure, a lovely goat cheese covered in ash with a piece of hollow straw (as in hay) inserted in the middle. The owner said that this facilitates the aeration of the cheese.

This is a place that I willingly patronize despite the distance from my home, because they really do have amazing cheese. I swallow a few lactose-intolerant tablets, try their goat cheese in honey and lavender flower, and for a few moments I am in France.

la petite France e.K.

Straße des Friedens 8 99094 Erfurt

Tuesdays to Fridays 12-10 pm

Saturdays 5 to 10 pm

Closed Mondays, Sundays and holidays.

Spätsommer Fest at Goldhelm Chocolate

What a magical, magical night. In what was possibly the last warm summer night of the year, the border to France magically moved itself 600 kilometers to the East, and a small public party to the loyal customers of Goldhelm Chocolate Manufacturer. There were crepes, a photo booth, a corner to make your own truffles, a graffiti corner for kids, and Momo, a French chanson, and his kick-ass accordion player!

partyI’ve been wanting to attend their late summer party for two years now, but I only had the opportunity to go this year. It amazed me how so damned twee everything was.

I had a wonderful caramel-encrusted cheese (camembert?), a chocolate and hazelnut crepe, and a non-alcoholic drink mix in what could be the cutest packaging ever!

Striped  paper straws!

Striped paper straws!

And that the team of Goldhelm pulled everything off wonderfully. Everybody had a great time, especially after the guests had imbibed a good deal of alcohol.

Thanks Goldhelm, I had a lot of fun, and I hope I could attend next year!

Food Fight! Mont d’ Or vs. Ofenkäse

Allemande versus Frankrreich!

Now, you didn’t think that I bought bread from Backstube just for any old reason, did you?

Ever since Marketmanila turned me on to David Lebovitz, I’ve been following his blog to get ideas on what other foods that I have to try before leaving this earth.

A trip to the Swiss-French border last week, concentrated around Geneva, gave me an excuse to try out Mont d’ Or, an unpasturized raw milk cheese made near that area. David made a blog post about Mont d’ Or that piqued my curiosity. I was getting ready to hunt down fromageries in France for it, but all I needed to do was go down to the next Migros supermarket, which had the last seven boxes of this cheese in one of its refrigerated shelves. It was a bit pricey, € 6,99 for a wooden carton (I made sure the box was stapled and the cheese au lait cru, David, in case you are reading this. But that is wishful thinking).

Then I thought, why not try it side by side with German Ofenkäse? This is also basically fondue in a box. So off to the supermarket to get a wooden carton of Ofenkäse from Allgäu, and beat it to a friend’s house to share the goodies, eat a cheese dinner and make the comparison.

wine

Next to the Migros in Neydens in France is a wine store, and I was quite relieved that the young proprietor spoke English. I asked for a wine that went with the cheese, and recommended this bottle from Switzerland, since I am partial to sweet and fruity wines. Fendant only cost me € 11 a bottle, which is quite cheap for Swiss wine. I opened this bottle of wine and drank it with my friend while we prepared the cheese the same way, the way David described on his blog post.

After thinly slicing two cloves of garlic, and inserting a total of one clove in each cheese into slits cut into the top of both , I splashed a generous amount (half a cup) of wine into both cheeses. The Mont d’ Or was then wrapped in aluminum foil with the top exposed, while the Ofenkäse was left to bake as it was.

At the halfway mark (15 minutes), I took the Ofenkäse out of the oven and sliced the top to expose the cheese inside, according to package instructions. At thirty minutes we took both the cheeses out and I made several photographs.

cheese2

As one could see, the Ofenkäse on the right looked like melted cheese on pizza. The Mont d’ Or on the left looked untouched.

Then we set sliced bread and the cheeses onto the table and had it with a salad of carrots and apples with creme fraiche dressing and cornichons. The French would gasp in horror, I know. But I made sure to eat all of the sour foods at the end and wash each bite of cheese with water so as to not spoil my taste buds.

It kind of felt wrong to have such a decadent dinner on a Friday. I was supposed to abstain from meat because of Lent, but it doesn’t make sense to abstain from meat when these cheeses were just so fatty.

cheese3Mont d’ Or is delightfully French. My first bite smelled and tasted like a smelly armpit. It was fatty, gooey,  and funky. It left a fatty deposit on my palate and my lips, as if I ate a bowlful of Nilagang baka, a very fatty Filipino beef stew. However, I would like to also add my discovery that Mont d’ Or is not my favorite cheese, as I am more partial to pungent goat cheeses.  Not that Mont d’ Or is not good. Au contraire.

After sampling Ofenkäse then Mont d’ Or, in that sequence, my friend announced her regrets for not eating more of the Ofenkäse because “how can anybody go back to eating that stuff?”

At this point I had almost forgotten the German cheese and ate it. Yuck! It tasted like nothing! It seemed different to me in every bite. Where there was harmony in the fat and garlic taste of the Mont d’ Or, there was only dissonance in Ofenkäse. It tasted in turns like air, then strongly of garlic, then like processed cheese food, a factory-like, completely manufactured flavor.

I’m sorry to say that when it comes to cheeses, the French just K.O’d the Germans.