On a recent trip to northern France, we ate a lot of cheese. And that's probably an understatement. From mild to sharp, hard to soft, blue to aged, there were milk cheeses, goat cheeses and varieties infused with everything from herbs to dried fruit. Cheese was served as a snack, an appetizer and for dessert at meals in Paris and in the countryside. What I found most impressive, though, were the lunches served at the public schools attended by the children of our host families. There were no chicken nuggets. Instead, they are served baguettes and select cheeses, including blue cheese, Brie and a local favorite, Camembert, before they dine on baked chicken breasts, boiled potatoes and salade verte, a mixture of local greens. When we returned to Florida, I went shopping in search of a few "fancy" cheeses I could send to school with my daughter, along with some fresh bread or crackers. We wanted to go beyond string cheese or the cheese "product" served prepackaged with crackers or pretzels. All seven cheeses we sampled came in convenient sizes that would travel well. Our Taster's panel picked three favorites, all of which can be served at room temperature.
Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent