And just a little way down is perhaps the most famous cheese stall in the market: La Mere Richard. La Mere Richard sells all kinds of cheese, but it’s best known for the hometown favorite: Saint-Marcellin. A cow’s milk cheese with a taste that starts off mild and then finishes fruity and nutty. The cheese is young and soft and tender and is often sold in terracotta dishes, the better to contain it.
Whenever I buy a Saint Marcellin for a cheese course, I buy a couple because they’re small and also because they always turn out to be in demand. I wasn’t surprised that rounds of Saint-Marcellin were offered as the cheese course or even dessert at so many restaurants, but I was surprised when Michael and I asked if we could split the cheese and it came to the table like this – so clever. By pressing the knife against the cut, the cheese was kept inside its soft and supple ‘skin’ and we each had the pleasure of pulling away the knife and seeing the perfect cheese start its slide across the plate.
Because Saint Marcellin comes from the Rhone-Alpes, it’s most often paired with a red Cote-de-Rhone wine or syrah, the grape of the region. It’s also served with Beaujolais (we had a Fleurie, a cru Beaujolais, with this runny round) and I think it would be nice with a rich white. Actually, the thing about Saint Marcellin is this: if it’s perfect, it’s good right off the tip of the knife … or even the tip of your finger.