Category Archives: French food

Banon Cheese

Banon Cheese

It is rumored that Emperor Antoninus Pius who died in 161BC, died from eating too much Banon Cheese.

banon cheeseWhat makes this unpasteurized  goat cheese so special you ask?  It is the way they make it and it has been made this way for a very long time.   The cheese was first made by a couple in the village of Puimichel near the town of Banon in the region of Alpes-de-Haute Provence.

The unpressed curd is placed in an earthenware jar and seasoned with salt and pepper and doused with vinegar and eau de vie, a clear fruit brandy then left to ferment. The cheese will last for years becoming stronger with time. The cheese when young taste sour and chalky, but let it age and you have a little piece of heaven. After a few weeks the young cheese is wrapped in chestnut leaves to continue the ageing process.

How can you tell a good Banon Cheese? By the color of the leaves. Dark green or brown are the best.  It is very soft and creamy with a fruity and slightly nutty taste and a pungent aroma. The taste and texture change with age.  The rumor says that if you taste this cheese during the month of May while in France at the Banon Cheese festival you will forever yearn to return to Banon.

You can be certain when purchasing Banon cheese from France that you will always get a similar product. The French, who awarded Banon the AOC, or term of controlled origin in the 2000s, regulates the production of the cheese. This means that only certain cheese meeting the French standards for the production of Banon cheese, may be called so. The French regulate all aspects of how, where and when Banon can be produced and labeled within their country.

The word Banon is pronounced ban-awh. The final n as in many French words is not pronounced. You may also find Banon cheese called Banon à la feuille, translated as cheese of the leaf or cheese with a sheet. It is sold in small rounds that are traditionally wrapped with chestnut or grape leaves to enhance the flavor of the cheese and keep it moist, which hastens the production of molds adding even more flavor as the cheese ages. As it ages, the cheese becomes more creamy in texture and richer in flavor, providing a somewhat fruity tasting cheese. Banon cheese is usually served as an hors d’oeuvre or with fruit and wine.

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Filed under Artisan Cheese, Banon Cheese, Chef Lippe, French food, Uncategorized

Bas Cuisine


“Bas Cuisine”, France’s true and humble cooking
By Chef Lippe

When I tell my French colleagues that their Haute Cuisine was really created by Italians, they get this trembling about the cheeks I find so very amusing, they will never truly come to terms with the fact that French cooking can be defined before and after Caterina di Medici married King Henry II of Orleans. In fact the bride when inspecting her future husband’s royal kitchens qualified the cooks as “barbaric pigs”, and only came back four years later with an army of Florentine and Genovese chefs.

They introduced the omelet, a roman creation called Ova Melita back in imperial times using the eggs of geese, the Bagne Marie was invented by Maria di Ferona, an Italian alchemist, who developed the double boiler sick of watching her lead churn to coal at the bottom of the cauldron in search of the transmutation of matter, she called it of course ‘bagno de Maria”, the same applying to béchamel sauce formerly “becchia melia“, chantilly, puffed pastry and other couple of hundred items brought in by the Queen’s vassals, last but not least, the fork was introduced into France by her, who made it an edict all should learn its use.

All this said and done and before I am guillotined here, I point out that in my opinion the best of France lies not behind complicated courtesan concoctions, but in its simple, hearty provincial cooking I have dearly come to call “Bas Cuisine”

From the satisfying potages of Auvergne, to the boullabaisse and fresh herbs of Provence, the velvety texture of boeuf bourguignone in Dijon and the fresh aroma of the cassoulets in Languedoc characterize the true spirit of French cooking. The crispy and delicate “Bresse Poulet” in Savoy, simply offered at the pit, the rich palate of the quiches from Lorraine, Bretagne with its crêpes, Normandie with its world famous Camembert cheese, rich meat dishes washed down with cider and Calvados, Champagne and Bordeaux, with its wines and cheeses, Châteaux country trout, roast pork, and the fruits and vegetables from Torraine and the Loire valley, French country cooking displays an array of flavors colors and textures as varied and honest as the people who make it, and I would never trade a wooden bench at a country dinner for anything else when eating French food. Vive la France!

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Filed under Bas Cuisine, Champagne, Food, Food blog, French food, Haute Cuisine, health through eating, Slow Food