CNIEL, the French Dairy Board, hosted an exclusive evening in Dubai showcasing the finest cheeses from across France and exclusive creations by François Robin, Meilleur Ouvrier de France Fromager

One of the top cheesemongers in France, François Robin, winner of the prestigious Meilleur ouvrier de France Fromager award, recently paid homage to everything cheese related at an event organised by the French Dairy Board in Dubai.

Aptly hosted at French celebrity chef Pierre Gagnaire’s Pierre’s Bistro & Bar in Festival City, the evening delivered an array of mouth-watering cheese creations which put to the test the age-old adage of sweet or cheese for dessert.

Speaking at the event, François said: “In the Middle East people have a very sophisticated taste when it comes to cheese and are familiar with the likes of Camembert, Brie, Roquefort and even Comté, all of which our outstanding cheeses on their own. However, these cheeses are also very malleable and are the ideal accompaniment to fruits, nuts, honey and even gingerbread giving an even greater range of taste.”

The event welcomed a range of F&B professionals from the UAE who were treated to an alternative cheese board which showcased unique creations combining sweets and cheese. Dishes included, amongst others: Fig Flower, a combination of Saint-Marcellin cheese and hazelnut; the Comté Lollipop which featured date syrup, pistachios, sesame and almonds; Goat Cheese Tarte Fine, featuring basil and strawberry puree; Red Basque, featuring Ossau-Iraty cheese and espelette pepper jelly; and Christmas Blue, which included Fourme D’Ambert cheese with gingerbread and honey.

“The beauty of cheese, particularly French cheese, which is one of the best in the world, is it can be matched with such a variety of local ingredients. I regularly use spices, pomegranate molasses, lemongrass, coriander, ginger and dates when making cheese. When I’m being creative and developing new tastes and sensations it is imperative to use the very best ingredients and that’s where French cheeses really come into their own,” added François.

The UAE has been quick to heed François’s advice, last year importing 2,725 tons of French cheese. Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait, imported a total of 17,900 tonnes.

“French produce, particularly cheese, has seen an unprecedented increase in interest from Middle East consumers. As such many French cheese exporters to this region are seeing a spike in demand from restaurants, supermarkets and, thanks to evolving tastes, consumers in their own homes. With the growth of the culinary scene, there will be even greater opportunity and demand, for French cheese to become a staple on Middle East menus,” said M. Laurent Damiens, Communication Director of CNIEL, the French official dairy board.

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