What is Boulette de Cambrai? The Milky Delight from Nord-pas-de-Calais

Boulette de Cambrai (FRANCE) - CheeseBoulette de Cambrai (FRANCE) - Cheese Origin Origin

Boulette de Cambrai is not just a cheese – it’s a sensory experience. This ball or cone-shaped delicacy, weighing a petite 200 to 300 grams, packs an impressive punch of flavors. It’s a dance of sweet, milky notes combined with the subtle tanginess of chives, parsley, and tarragon, offering a unique taste profile that is both comforting and invigorating.

But what makes Boulette de Cambrai stand out in the crowded world of cheese? Is it the fresh cow’s milk that forms its foundation? Or the blend of herbs that gives it its signature taste?

Join us as we explore the origins, production, and consumption of Boulette de Cambrai – an ode to the unassuming yet powerful world of regional cheeses.

Quick Facts About Boulette de Cambrai

Country of OriginFrance
ClassificationFresh, soft cheese
Age2 to 3 months
MilkRaw or pasteurized cow’s milk
Fat content28.5% to 45%
Weight280 g (10 oz)
Diameter7.5 cm (3 inches)
Height10 cm (4 inches)
RindWashed, rindless
AromaMild, fresh
TasteHerbaceous, slightly tangy with a hint of sweetness
Beverage pairingPasse-tout-grain Burgundy, Beaujolais
PairingSpread on crusty bread, flatbread, toast
Unique CharacteristicsTraditionally hand-shaped into a ball, often dusted with breadcrumbs
Historical SignificanceDeveloped in the Middle Ages by monks in the Cambrai region

What is Boulette de Cambrai?

Boulette de Cambrai is an intriguing cheese that hails from the region of Nord-pas-de-Calais, specifically the city of Cambrai near the Belgian border. This distinctive cheese has a rich history and a unique flavor profile that sets it apart in the world of dairy delights.

This cheese is made with fresh cow’s milk, which contributes to its milky and slightly herbal taste. It’s a fresh cheese that’s unpasteurized, which allows it to retain a robust flavor that’s characteristic of artisanal products. The cheese is rindless and shaped into small balls, giving it a unique look that’s instantly recognizable.

One of the defining features of Boulette de Cambrai is its seasoning. It’s flavored with a blend of chives, parsley, and tarragon, which lends it a slightly tangy edge. This combination of herbs provides an extra layer of complexity to the cheese, making it a favorite among cheese connoisseurs.

Another interesting aspect of Boulette de Cambrai is its texture. It’s made from fromage frais, which gives it a soft, crumbly consistency. This texture makes it perfect for spreading on crusty bread or pairing with fruits and wines for a well-rounded cheese platter.

In essence, Boulette de Cambrai is more than just a cheese; it’s a taste of French heritage. Its unique shape, flavor, and texture all contribute to its charm, making it a must-try for any cheese aficionado.

What Does Boulette de Cambrai Taste Like?

What Does Boulette de Cambrai Taste Like?

Boulette de Cambrai is a distinctive cheese with a unique flavor profile. It’s made from cow’s milk, which gives it a creamy and mild base taste. This is complemented by an array of herbs including chives, parsley, and tarragon that are added during the cheese-making process. These herbs lend a subtle tanginess to the cheese, creating a pleasant contrast with the creaminess of the milk.

The cheese also carries a hint of sweetness, which balances out the tangy herb flavors and leaves a delightful aftertaste. The texture of the cheese is soft and crumbly, and this contributes to its overall taste experience, as it melts in the mouth releasing its complex flavors.

In summary, Boulette de Cambrai offers a harmonious blend of creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet flavors with a soft, crumbly texture that makes it quite a treat for the taste buds.

Fun fact: Unlike Boulette d’Avesnes, Boulette de Cambrai is always consumed fresh.

Boulette de Cambrai Tasting Notes

  • Appearance: Small, round balls with a rindless and slightly moist surface. The cheese is usually coated in a mix of herbs, giving it a greenish hue.
  • Texture: Soft and crumbly, with a consistency similar to fromage frais. It becomes even creamier at room temperature.
  • Aroma: Mild, milky aroma with a hint of fresh herbs.
  • Taste: Creamy and mild base flavor from the cow’s milk, which is beautifully contrasted by the tanginess of chives, parsley, and tarragon. There’s a subtle sweetness that balances the tanginess and lingers on the palate.
  • Aftertaste: Leaves a pleasant, slightly sweet aftertaste with lingering notes of fresh herbs.
  • Pairing: Pairs well with crusty bread, fruits, and a variety of wines. It also works well in salads and as a topping for canapés.
  • Overall: A unique cheese with an intriguing blend of flavors and textures. Its creamy, tangy, and sweet notes, coupled with its soft, crumbly texture, make it a delightful cheese to savor.

What Pairs Well With Boulette de Cambrai?

Food that goes well with Boulette de Cambrai:

Food CategorySpecific Foods
BreadsBaguettes, sourdough, multigrain bread, rye bread
CrackersWhole grain crackers, water crackers, rice crackers
FruitsGrapes, apples, pears, figs
MeatsProsciutto, salami, smoked turkey
NutsAlmonds, walnuts, pecans
JamsFig jam, apricot jam, raspberry jam
OlivesGreen olives, black olives, kalamata olives
HoneyClover honey, orange blossom honey
VegetablesCherry tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber slices
SeafoodSmoked salmon, anchovies
Other CheesesCamembert, Brie, Roquefort

Also read: 11 Best Crackers that Pair Well with Cheese

Beverage that goes well with Boulette de Cambrai:

Beverage CategorySpecific Beverages
WinesChardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir
BeersBelgian-style Saison, Blonde Ale, Wheat Beer
CidersDry Cider, Apple Cider
Non-Alcoholic DrinksSparkling Water, Apple Juice, Grape Juice

Also read: Best Wine and Cheese Pairings: The Ultimate Guide

The History and Origin of Boulette de Cambrai

Boulette de Cambrai is a traditional French cheese that originated in the Nord-pas-de-Calais region, specifically in the city of Cambrai, which is situated near the Belgian border. It’s known for its unique round shape and the blend of herbs it is typically coated with.

This cheese has a rich history and is deeply rooted in the local culture of Cambrai, a city that also became significant during the Merovingian era as the center of a vast archdiocese. The region’s culinary traditions and dairy farming practices have greatly influenced the creation and development of this cheese.

The production of Boulette de Cambrai involves fresh cow’s milk, which gives the cheese its creamy and mild base flavor. The cheese is then often coated with a mix of chives, parsley, and tarragon, lending it a distinct tangy taste.

It’s interesting to note that Cambrai is not only famous for this cheese but also for other food items like the “Bêtise de Cambrai”, a type of confectionery invented around 1830 due to a recipe error by an apprentice confectioner.

However, despite the presence of other notable foods, Boulette de Cambrai remains a standout product of the region. Its unique taste profile and centuries-old tradition of production make it an integral part of the culinary heritage of Nord-pas-de-Calais.

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