Eight years ago I had the blessed opportunity to have an impromptu dinner of cheese, wine and European cigarettes whilst enjoying the very late night air of Spring on a balcony overlooking the Potomac and the illuminated monuments of our country. I tasted a cheese that night that had a kind of stinky aroma but tasted like the firmaments. I looked for this cheese everywhere I went where cheese might be and never found it again. Last night, I found some. It is Explorateur. Here is what the Gourmet Cheese of the Month Club has to say about this magical cheese:
Triple Crème Cheeses Should Only Be Eaten With Good Friends.
This unbelievable cheese, made in the Isle de France region, is the most decadent and indulgent cheese experience you will ever encounter. Explorateur was created by the French in honor of the first US satellite, Explorer One. Such acute differences in cultural expressions always amaze me! In America, surely we named something after Explorer One. Please let us know if you aware of anything that commemorates this extraordinary milestone here in our country! On the other hand, the French who simply appreciated our efforts, created a magnificent cheese in honor of Explorer One, a high point of human achievement.
A full pound of Explorateur will easily serve 12 people. Triple Crème cheeses are the creamiest, and most luxurious of all French Cheeses. They are made by adding extra crème to the fresh curd used to make soft-ripened cheeses. By law these cheeses must contain at least 75% butterfat… not a good thing if you are watching your weight, but enjoy anyway. A little cheese won’t sabotage your resolve. Triple crème cheeses are cured for about three weeks before they develop a very thin, downy rind. Among the most famous are French Saint Andre, Explorateur, Brilliat Savarin, and Pierre Robert.
When ripe, Explorateur’s ivory interior has a delicate aroma, and a salty, mushroomy tang… a delicately piquant flavor that reminds me of buttery baked hazelnuts. Explorateur is usually served as an appetizer with Champagne, Bordeaux, or dry, fruity white wines, and crusty French bread. Often it’s served at the end of a meal as a dessert accompanied by a medley of ripe, fresh fruit.
Explorer was launched on JAN 31’ 58 following the Soviet Sputnik, and at that time it was embarrassing for Americans to “catch up” to the Russians. The U.S. Army launched Explorer One using a rocket that had been developed to test guided missile components.
Every 115 minutes, Explorer orbited Earth, 220 miles above the surface at its closest point, and 1580 miles at its farthest. It measured cosmic rays and micrometeorites, transmitting this data until February 28, 1958.
Explorer One proved that the Earth is surrounded by intense bands of radiation, now called the Van Allen radiation belts. You can see Explorer One at the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum, Milestones of Flight Gallery.
I should probably mention at this point that I am powerless against cheese. I routinely come home from the Co-op with at least four different cheeses, and that is always with valiant restraint. I actually ate so much of the Explorateur last night that I still have a stomach ache, but it was well worth it.