23 March 2009

The cheese incident...

OK, so I mentioned a cheese incident in the last post. Let's just state from the outset that I love cheese. I am especially partial to Brie - and triple cream if at all possible, though any sort will be just fine. Our trip to Tahiti was the first time I'd set foot on (notionally) French soil since going to New Caledonia as a teenager. We got it into our heads that it would be nice to track down some real French cheese. So we took ourselves off for a walk and about 20 minutes later came across a little shopping centre with a handful of shops which included a supermarket-and-variety store all in one called Carrefour.

It was a teensy bit run down - a kind of slow, nonchalant carelessness about it. What it did have, however, was a HUGE cheese section which stretched for metres and metres down the centre of the store. Mmmmm! Cheese heaven. I had so much choice! And it was ALL imported from France! It was impossible to know where to start. Yvette left me to it - she couldn't cope with the overload! - and went in search of fresh fruit. I read labels, tried to do quick exchange rates in my head (didn't work, but it made me feel better) and bought a wedge of the creamiest, sloppiest authentic Brie.

We took it back to the hotel and relished the fantastic flavour as we sloooowly nibbled our little cheesy treasure. We wrapped the remainder for the next day, and popped it into the bar fridge. When it came to the next afternoon, we sought out our cheese and found that housekeeping had removed it from the fridge and disposed of it. QUELLE HORREUR!!! I had a fit there and then! How could they do that! Barbarians!

I most certainly went, with my pleasantest smile and determination, to the concierge and lodged a complaint - which needed resolving immediately as we were preparing to leave for the airport. The concierge was most understanding, and said he'd see what he could do. I went back to our room frustrated and despondent at being robbed of my little pleasure.

A while later, there was a knock on the door. Before us stood one of the hotel staff, bearing an apology and a plate from the kitchen with a HUGE quantity of Brie and several bread rolls. Would that suffice? Certainly it would - and it did! Thank you. It turned out to be a much finer cheese than the one we'd lost, so we enjoyed Brie rolls at the airport at midnight.

There was so much Brie we couldn't possibly eat it all without actually becoming ill, so we wrapped it up and took it onto the flight with us. We did eat more on the way to Sydney, but were still left with a sizeable wedge as we approached those friendly souls at Customs and Quarantine. Australia has some of the strictest quarantine laws in the world, but we thought we'd give it a go.

We declared it (of course - stupid not to! Getting caught was NOT something we wanted to do over a wedge of cheese, no matter how good!). The woman who served us was most apologetic about having to confiscate the cheese - but completely understood that we might want to keep it. Who knows? They might have let us keep it (delusional, aren't we?)... We were OK with letting it go - it was obvious we had to - we'd had rather a lot already.

When we finally did get to Paris, we sourced a fromagerie and stocked up on more Brie. You might have to do what the Romans do in Rome, but in France you HAVE to eat their cheese! And they go ever so nicely with fresh baguettes...

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