To be an affineur, is to be an expert on aging. Of cheese.
In St. Remy de Provence, cheese makers bring their cheeses to this shop, where the resident affineur will take their product and put it in the ripening cellar. An affineur is sometimes described as the "foster parent of the cheese," overseeing its development with a keen sense for when its flavors will peak.
Even better, when customers arrive at the Cave d'Affinage, or "The Ripening Cave," they can place full trust in the affineur to find a cheese that will be ripe for serving at exactly the moment it is needed—whether that very afternoon, or three days away.
And if it's lucky, the cheese will end up on a table, in a garden, comme cette:
For more information and a good discussion write Robert Reynolds at www.chefstudio.com.
I visited my first 'cave d' affinage' when visiting Robert in Noir, in the Charente back in 1994. Who knew back then, that every product has an expert. A taster. A Phd in the science of finer nuances of flavor.