For me, Chablis will always be more than just the home of one of my favourite wines – it’s where I learned to eat cheese clockwise. Who would have guessed a wine-tasting trip to Burgundy would give me such valuable life lessons?
On the weekend that the clocks go back – a weekend I dread – it seems an appropriate reminiscence somehow. I was reminded of it, as we went out for dinner last night with several friends who were on the same trip.
Our stay in Chablis had been organised by the now-defunct Sussex Wine Club. From Brighton, we headed for the Kent coast in a coach, took the ferry and then headed for Burgundy.
Chablis was one of several scheduled stops and we were booked into L’Hostellerie des Clos for the night. The following day, we would enjoy a lunch in the hotel’s restaurant. I gather the place has been given a makeover since we were there but it was rather nice even then.
I forget the details of the meal – apart from the cheese course. The waiter arrived at our table Victoria Wood-style, with a trolley laden with cheeses.
We were each invited to make a choice of four.
He then cut four slices and placed them on a plate. The first went at midday on the plate, the second at 3 o’clock, the third at 6 o’clock and the final one at 9 o’clock.
This was the order I should eat the cheeses in, he explained. I should start with the mildest of my selection and work my way up to the strongest, a blue cheese.
I’d never seen this before. Until then, I had simply attacked a cheese board as I saw fit. Which usually meant that my favourites – the soft, pungent, washed-rind cheeses – were seen off first. Something hard, such as a Comté, was more than likely to be left until last.
“I should start with the mildest of my selection and work my way up to the strongest, a blue cheese”
This kind of etiquette will serve me well in the future when Damon and I open a cheese and wine bar/shop in France (Brexit permitting).
And let’s not forget that a Chablis can work well with some cheeses too. All in all, it was a trip that has served me well.
Photo © L’Hostellerie des Clos