The village of Époisses « doit sa célébrité à deux monuments : son château et son fameux fromage à pâte molle. » That's what the Guide Michelin has to say. It's another village whose name I knew very well, but I'd never been there. Semur-en-Auxois was a name I knew because I'd often heard people recommend it as a beautiful and interesting place. Époisses (pop. 770 or so) was a name I knew because of the cheese of the same name.
I know you are tired of hearing me say this, but the weather was still gray and drizzly when we got to Époisses (pronounced [ay-PWAHSS]). We had decided to have lunch there, but not in a restaurant. We'd bought some sandwiches and we thought we might have a picnic and give Callie a chance to run around for a few minutes.
No dice. We ended up sitting in the car in front of the main gate of the château and eating our sandwiches in the car. That took a lot less time than a restaurant would have taken, and we had two more villages we wanted to go see in the afternoon. Anyway, we didn't go to Burgundy to eat in restaurants — not with the dog in tow.
We have friends in California who especially love Époisses cheese. In fact, one of them is having a birthday today (Bon Anniversaire, C. !) I wish they could be here so that we could dig into a ripe Époisses — as you can see, you pretty much serve it with a spoon. We can buy Époisses here in the Saint-Aignan area on the markets and even in the supermarkets. The Fromagerie Berthaut's web site is here.
Reading about Époisses cheese, I just learned a couple of things I didn't know. Part of the cheese-making process involves using rennet that is flavored with black pepper, cloves, and fennel. All are optional but are often used. Époisses cheese is eaten fresh in summertime, and in its aged form in wintertime. The famous gourmet Brillat-Savarin called it « le roi des fromages », and if you've tried it you might understand why.