Pungent French cheese spread
There are many ways of making fromage fort, which translates as ‘strong cheese’. It’s actually a spread that is generally served on toast or fresh country bread and was originally devised as a way of recycling old cheese. The cheese was grated with a little garlic and left to macerate in some marc (a French eau-de-vie distilled from grape skins, stems and seeds that is similar to Italy’s grappa) and a few tablespoons of broth from the whites of leeks.
This modernized version omits the broth but is otherwise quite similar. It combines roquefort, comté and goat cheese, but feel free to experiment. If roquefort is not available, use a blue cheese, preferably French. For comté, you can substitute gruyère or any similar cheese — or even sharp cheddar. For the goat cheese, I would recommend crottins (little round cheeses) or an ash-coated goat cheese. Whichever you choose, it’s best if they are old enough to have dried out a bit.
Once your spread is ready, it will keep for a week or two in the fridge. Place it in a ceramic or glass pot, and cover it with culinary film. You can serve the spread as an appetizer at cocktail hour (in small quantities!), as a cheese course during dinner, or simply as tartines — open-faced sandwiches — at lunchtime, accompanied by a glass of sturdy red.
2-1/2 ounces (75 g.) roquefort or blue cheese
1-1/4 ounces (35 g.) comté, gruyère, or a similar cheese
1-1/4 ounces (35 g.) goat cheese
1 small clove garlic or 1/2 large clove garlic
1 tsp. marc, grappa or (in a pinch) cognac
1 tbsp. hot water
Place the roquefort or blue in a shallow bowl and mash it up with a fork.
Grate the other cheeses using the fine side of your grater. Add to the roquefort.
Peel the garlic and put it through a press. Add to the cheese.
Add the marc or grappa and the hot water. Mash it all together.
Allow to sit for at least half an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Serve on toast. Serves 4-8, depending on the size of the portions.