Classic French grand cuisine has influenced many forms of Western cooking. The majority of culinary schools in the world use French cuisine as the fundamental guideline in preparing other kinds of Western food. Among the best known of French favorites are wine
and cheese, a pairing said to be a romantic couple.
The pairing of wine and cheese is also symbolic of a distinctively traditional French menu. Every style of wine and cheese has its own flavor, texture and other inherent characteristics.
Gilles Marx, chef and food and wine specialist at the Riva Bistro & Bar at the Park Lane Hotel, said that pairing cheese and wine had a notably long history.
The Point met Marx and engaged in a friendly conversation regarding French cuisine, particularly wine and cheese.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Q: How did the pairing of wine and cheese emerge in the history of French cuisine?
A: Historically, both wine and cheese can be dated back to ancient times. We’re talking about thousands of years B.C. Wine and cheese have a certain similarity in that they both are products of fermentation. In France, cheese is considered as much as wine in terms of regional culture of food and beverages. The pairing of wine and cheese is truly a romantic couple in French cuisine. It is important, nevertheless, to be able to distinguish the various qualities and tastes in these two products.
Q: Can you explain how to distinguish the quality and taste of French wines and cheeses?
Q: Can you give me some examples of AOC products?
A: For cheese, here at the Riva Bistro we have 30 traditional French cheeses including 15 of the finest cheeses by Philippe Oliver, France’s most famous expert on cheese. Like the one you just tasted, it’s a ‘Camembert au Lait Cru,’ one of the finest cheeses.
Q: It’s delicious. It smells like an original high quality cheese, it’s creamy and tastes rather salty.
A; Yes, and such a rich tasting cheese should be paired with ‘Château Duluc St. Julien Bordeaux 2003,’ a great expensive blackcurrant nose of wine. Or you can try ‘Joseph Drouhin Pouilly Fuisse Bourgogne 2005,’ it’s a seductive tasting wine that is best served with ‘Comte AOC’, a cheese that takes 100 days to mature and tastes sweet and nutty.
After growing up in the countryside of Alsace, France, Gilles Marx worked as a Chef for La Cote Saint Jacques in Burgundy and Le Traillevent in Paris during the 1990s. He has been French Chef d’ Cusine at Riva Bistro & Bar at the Park Lane Hotel, Jakarta since 1998.
By Aulia Rachmat, published in The Point Daily, May 3, 2007.