Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Melun Fete son Brie

The 1st Saturday in October is the not-to-be-missed Melun Fete son Brie.

Melun is a 26 minute train ride outside of Paris (Gare du Lyon) in the Ile-de-France department. *Please pronounce that Maaaaaaa-la...n like a French cow (not like a Vermont cow). If you say something like melon no one will have a clue what you're talking about by the way. The actual town is a 20 minute walk from the train station. But since some people haven't yet learned to wait on line for the bus or anything else, I suggest you wait. Granted I would have missed out on the scent of Brie cheese wafting over the bridge as I marched into Melun.

The town square was full of white tents offering an international cheese tasting. This fellow was born and bred in the Swiss town of Emmental from a family of cheese makers.

He offered me a taste of wonderful three-year-old Emmental. There are visible salt crystals on the side, the sign of the real thing. I bought his home-made fig/apple mustard but I should have bought some Emmental

It tasted infinitely better than the stuff in all the supermarkets here. When you order anything cheesey in France like a croque monsieur or a crepe fromage etc. you can bet your bottom euro it's this cheap industrial, shredded stuff you're getting - not nice at all.
Next to the Swiss guy a Polish purveyor from the Madeleine. (Where was the Brie?)
I bought ropes of smoky Kabanosy.
I merely tasted the cassis but was sorely tempted.
And even more tempted by the chestnuts from the Limosine. I just couldn't figure out what I'd do with a big bag of them...? You tell me.
I figured that was it for the fete and started wandering the streets to get back to the train station. Wrong! All the alleyways were full of little rock bands, producteurs from around France and and performers like this pantomime guy doing a 'cooking' demo for kids.
At last I found the town hall/Hotel de Ville where the main shindig was going on.

Plenty of Brie du Melun to taste here.
Honey tasting for the kids.

A lot of confreries (brotherhood/association) of this or that in medieval outfits.

The big cheese got up

To look a lot like a wheel of Brie IMHO.

Nearly everyone at this event was a confrerie of something or other including the guy pouring out tastes of milk. I'm sure this cow has a medal lurking at the end of her chain conferring some sort of honorary association. Geraldine says she's a confrerie du tastevin Clos Vougeot.
Big bird was not wearing a medal. Why ever not?
There is a decidedly medieval feel to this festival - everyone is out in the streets, many in costume, music playing. In general loads of fun and good cheer just a short ride out of Paris. True I did miss the big Brie tasting contest earlier in the day, but I'll try not to miss out on next Saturday's Brie fete in Meaux. Stay tuned.


  1. love the sketch of the brie man!

  2. Oh me too:-) love him..
    K..I would have been sampling etc:-)
    Fun fun Carol..

  3. Jeanne 365 dresses6:22 AM

    Love the chubby little chef

  4. No way was the head cheese 'little'

  5. What a day! I love that big cheese outfit, it's perfect.

  6. Gosh, you are having fun. Runny glorious brie for me on a baguette. The Euros take their food much more seriously than the Yanks. Truly, if it wasn't for the grandkiddies, Robert , Buster and I would be over in Europe in a trice.
    You cannot imagine the venomous politics here and the idiocy blah blah.
    Claudia is organizing an exhibition in Montpellier before too very long. La Belle France here we come.


  7. Carol; as a Swiss and with 'guided tours' through the Emmental caves I know a thing or two about this marvellous cheese and I am DEEPLY APPALLED by what the French call Emmental.... it's utterly disgusting and not worth the money - if you want grated cheese on something either buy a piece of comté (anything 12mo + older is good) or get the grated Parmesan at Lidl....

    Cassis.... :)))))

    châtaignes: easy peasy - cook them with red cabbage, finely shredded, add an apple (sharp taste, not a sweet one) in fine slices, a glass of red wine (optional but doesn't hurt), and/or some apple juice, heat on medium/low for the required time.... DELICIEUX! Or make a chestnut soup, or 'boil' them (you will find umpteen recipes on the net) and eat them with a nut bread and your lorry full of cheese - add a ripe pear, aaaah, I'm salivating on my keyboard.... :)

    Did the 'big cheese' man REALLY wear a full round of Brie on his head...? my.....

    I have friends in MELUN 'Moe-lin' (like linen in French...) - it REALLY is a mouth full, I too have the eternal problem of differenciating between Melun, Melin etc etc...

    bon appétit, Kiki

    1. Thank you Thank you Kiki for the whole scoop on French so-called 'Emmental'.
      We should strike. Makes me want to run to Switzerland.
      The hat is simply Brie-shaped...very witty IMHO
      Thank you the chestnut ideas...a must do

  8. OK, for your next career (when you tire of painting!) you can offer tours of the gastronomic delights of France. Photo tours, I think. You'd be GREAT! First, you gather, then go to your venue, take pix and compare! Oh, yes -- I'd want to do that! (This reminded me of Peter Mayle's book "French Lessons" where he explored France's gastronomic delights various festivals and events. Love it!)

    1. You're the second person to mention Mayle's book
      I must read it!
      Big Merci

  9. Oh Carol, what fun to travel to cheese festivals! I'm looking forward to the next report.


  10. Love the lessons today. Jacques Pépin has a chestnut and chocolate cake. You can google it if you want. I have not tried it, but have not made anything Pépin that was not wonderful. I have just discovered comté - just delicious. I am rather surprised that I am hearing more and more of inferior cheeses. I thought that was only prevalent in the States. Oh, and I love your cheese guy.

  11. Speaking of Mayle's book, if you have not read it, start with the first, "A year in Provence". It's especially nice as an audio book. He also wrote a fun one by his dog
    What really stirkes me about this little fete (don't know how to get the proper French accents) is how uncrowede it seems! Our farmer's markets and food festivals are all gigantic crowd-smashing marathons.

    1. Oh sure I read his 1st book ages ago
      I just got this one on my kindle
      Yes it wasn't mobbed but then the fete was spread all over town and not so widely publicized

  12. This is my kinda fête!! The costumes add so much character, especially the cheese head...and the honey sampling, bees included, is simply fantastic! "Yes, kids, that's where honey really comes from." xx Katie

  13. Looks like a ball. You can make chestnut cream to put on crepes, croissants, your finger....

  14. Jane S.2:01 PM

    pure sadism
    I sit here drooling, looking out at the steel grey East River and listening to the howling wind, and there is nothing good to eat.

    1. Move to France where there is the opposite problem

  15. You have some fabulous photos in this one! My favorites are the cassis folks & The Big Cheese. Big Bird is pretty good, too - quite a town!

  16. Oh my, that looks divine! I am a brie freak and I wish they had a brie festival in the States. Nice to see all the costumes and entetrainers too. I am sure you will have a great time at the next one as well. You are one lucky girl!

  17. Ah, cheese with salt crystals! The real McCoy. Love Kiki's suggestions on the chataignes but since I have a daughter who is obsessed with them, I toss them into roasted veg and chicken dishes. Roasted potatoes and pumpkin with chestnuts too. Hmm. Enjoy your other cheesy weekend - looks so much fun. Will be thinking of you while watching fencing matches.

    1. I had no idea!
      Endless amounts to learn about cuisine here
      Love yr ideas for the chestnuts!!


Love hearing from you