Figs with Brie de Meaux and Chocolate Shavings

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Chocolate and figs go tremendously well together. Add a soft runny Brie de Meaux and you have a cheese plate and a dessert all-in-one. Who said cooking had to be complicated?

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 round of ripe Brie de Meaux, cut into thin wedges
4 ripe figs, quartered
2 tablespoons honey (lavender honey would be very good)
100g 64% dark chocolate, shaved (see note below)
1 tablespoon of fig Vincotto or a decent quality Balsamic vinegar from Modena (optional)

Instructions
There is no real method to this dish: all you have to do is buy the best of ingredients and make sure both the figs and cheese are perfectly ripe. Lay the cheese and figs on a dish, drizzle over the honey (and Vincotto or Balsamic vinegar if using it) and distribute the chocolate shavings elegantly.

About the chocolate:
It’s tempting to go for a 70-80% chocolate with this dish, but actually a 64% chocolate or even a good quality milk chocolate brings out the fruitier qualities of the cheese. Try a Valrhona Manjari 64% which has lots of dried red fruitiness – you’ll find it in good food stores. If you want to buy a chocolate straight off the shelf and one that won’t break the bank, try Cadbury’s Bournville (don’t worry, your foodie credentials are safe, once you shave it, no-one will know).

About Brie de Meaux
Brie de Meaux is a raw cow’s milk cheese from the town of Meaux in the Brie region of France (would you believe that is only 40km – about an hour by car – from Paris!). It is an AOC product (Appellation d’Origine Contrôléewhich means that it must come from that region and from that terroir to earn the right to put AOC on the label. All Brie cheese is not made equal. When you buy Brie de Meaux in a cheese shop, it is most likely to be AOC – always ask to be certain – but when you buy it in a supermarket and it is just labelled ‘Brie’, it is probably mass-produced. Brie can be made anywhere but Brie de Meaux has to be made in Meaux. The real brie is a fermented product and matures over a six-week period that gives rise to a light powdery rind that you can eat.

David Liebovitz who writes about food in France has visited Meaux and he wrote an excellent article about the making of Brie de Meaux – you’ll find it here.

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