Monday, April 21, 2008

Pierre and his very special friend Robert

The great thing about french names is that they sometimes rhyme.  Say it with me...Pierre...Robert.  If you can't speak with a french accent don't worry.  I'll teach you.  It's easy. Grab a pen or pencil and hold it vertically in front of your face, resting it on the end of your nose and very close to your lips.  When you speak, try not to move your jaw very much and pout your lips as much as possible.  If your lips end up grazing (like a soft kiss) the pencil, then you are speaking with a french accent.  Easy. Breezy.  Covergirl.  Now try it again.  Pierre-Robert.

Pierre-Robert is the best cheese in the universe.  Period.  Well, maybe there's some room for others.  It is at least, one of my favorite cheeses.  It's a triple cream, cow's milk cheese from's spreadable, salty, and delicious.  Max Macalman in "The Cheese Plate" wrote the story of Pierre and his special life long friend, Robert, who decided to make this cheese.  Apparently Max feels the perfect wine pairing for Pierre-Robert is a riesling but he quoted the special cheese making friends as saying they feel the perfect wine pairing for their cheese is Champagne.  I read that book many years ago and thought it sounded perfect. I read it out loud to Marisa. She thought it sounded perfect too.  We tried it.  It was perfect!  I'm pretty sure we tried it with a Duval-Leroy rose as the restaurant we worked at the time ( had both Pierre-Robert cheese and Duval-Leroy Champagne.  But that was a long time ago. Yesterday however...

Negroamaro and I arrived at Cafe Fresca carrying a clothing store bag full of wine.  It's a bring your own type of joint.  There's also only one table and on that table is a plate of cheese and a sliced baguette.  Next to the plate is a bowl of chips...genius.  It's the little things that make Cafe Fresca special.  It's not the new art work, which we were told was done by a crippled junkie, it's not the early spring view of rocks and gravel in a barren garden, I would say it's the service but sometimes you end up serving yourself and that's okay too.  But it is the fact that you can sit there and tell really great stories about Pierre-Robert cheese and drink three bottles of champagne and no one bothers you at all.  Cafe Fresca is what we call Marisa's back yard.

Marisa and I don't even call the cheese Pierre-Robert anymore.  We always refer to it as Pierre and his very special friend Robert.  And we always have it with Champagne.  Hey, it's their suggestion! We began with Pehu-Simmonet Rose then moved on to Egly-Ouriet Brut, then to Guy Larmandier Blanc de Blancs.  It was happenstance that we ended up going from 100% pinot noir, to a blend, then finally to 100% chardonnay.  The Brut was the winning combo.  But, to be fair we chugged the blanc de blancs as our car was waiting for us outside and we really didn't have any cheese left.  

The true testament of the greatness of the combination of the Pierre-Robert and Champagne isn't even that we couldn't stop talking about it the whole time we were consuming them. It isn't the fact that the story of Pierre and Robert reminded Negroamaro about an old Haitian woman who cleans rooms at the hotel who can tell who stays in a room just by smelling when she first walks in.  Apparently she once walked in and took a deep breath and said in a thick accent (you might want to grab your pencil for this trick again) they are two men, they are french, and they are gay.  And it turned out that there was a pile of condoms in between the bed, two separate suitcases filled with men's clothing and Air France flight stickers all over everything! The testament to the power of the combo is that when we first sat down to snack and toast, Marisa asked if we thought it was weird that she walked a mile to get the cheese. I said no.  I can see it happening.  Marisa's a little obsessive sometimes, so am I.  I would have done the same thing.  Sometimes I walk really far to get to a certain wine shop or ribs.  I would totally do it for cheese.  Lucky for me, I have a remarkable cheese shop called Blue Apron just a few blocks from me.