A week and a bit ago, I left what was possibly the bleakest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in to move into my adorable AirBnB.
It is perched on a road that looks over the Saône river – on the other side of the road from my building is a sheer drop to the quai below. Walking down the stairs to the river – while undeniably handy – causes my knees to make the bad noises, and walking up causes my mouth to make the wheezing noises.
I have a small studio on the top floor of the block, where the roof has a charmingly jaunty pitch that has only caused me to hit my head three or four times so far, and the windows look out over the garden below. There is a table beneath the skylight, a bed and an armchair that has proved very useful for catching up with the goings on in Riverdale, and getting frustrated at Jude’s refusal to open up about his horrible past.
My feelings of affection toward the apartment are not entirely based on its personality, although it has that in spades. Rather, before I managed to lay my hat, I spent three weeks traversing the globe, where I stayed with three different sets of people and in two different hotels, and slept in two heinously uncomfortable airplane seats.
In that three weeks I only managed to cook once, at Sarah’s house, where she bade me make a recipe from her English version of My Food Bag while she finished doing some work. I really missed having a kitchen, and cooking, and so arriving at my new house, where I had a space to work some culinary magic, was very exciting.
Unfortunately, it is not a very big space, with a couple of hobs and a sink, and not a whole lot of prep space in between. It makes up for its lack of oven and can opener and decent knife, however, with that most versatile and compact piece of kitchen equipment, the salad spinner.
My first night there I made a recipe from Serious Eats – a farro salad with tomato, cucumber and blue cheese (although I couldn’t even find pearl barley on its own at the supermarket, let alone farro, and ended up with a mixture of brown rice and barley). For the blue cheese portion of the recipe, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to give old mate Roquefort a whirl.
Outside of Stilton (which is an English cheese) and Gorgonzola (Italian), Roquefort is probably the most famous kind of blue cheese. It is an AOP cheese (like Saint Marcellin and probably all of the cheeses I’ll be trying from now on), and is made in southern France, near Toulouse.
Roquefort has an origin story worthy of Marvel. The mould that makes the cheese blue comes from a particular cave where, according to legend, a young man abandoned his lunch to go and bother a beautiful girl he saw in the distance. When he returned a few weeks later, the cheese he’d left behind had grown mouldy, so naturally, he decided to give it a try.
Cheesemakers would leave loaves of bread in these magical caves to grow mouldy, and then grind the bread into powder to use in ageing the cheeses. Roquefort is made from unpasteurised sheeps’ milk (sheep’s milk? Sheeps milk? I unno), making it le fromage dangereux – it was illegal in NZ before 2007.
Roquefort is a strongly flavored cheese, and the one I bought was no exception at all. It was pungent and tangy, with a salty, mushroomy vibe that gave way to something a little sweet. It was quite moist and creamy, although it had a slightly gritty texture that wasn’t unpleasant – think ‘eating a pear’ rather than ‘I dropped my sandwich on the beach’.
I found out the hard way that a little Roquefort would go a long way in the salad I was making. There was quite a bit of the cheese left over, however, and subsequent nibblings proved far more satisfying than the first salad. It was particularly delicious on a slice of baguette topped with halved red grapes.
Type of cheese: Roquefort
Eaten with: Farro salad, Beaujolais Cru
Score: 4 out of 10 laughing cows in the salad, 7 out of 10 laughing cows by itself.