All things cheese in France

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Lactose Intolerance versus Milk Allergy, bis

from Culture Magazine 2013
My theory on Lactose Intolerance versus a Lactose Allegy has been vindicated!

An article on the Culture Magazine website - Cheeseographic: Lactose Intolerance on

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Making Mozzarella

Photo by Charlotte Moore
The Daily Cure blog written by Charlotte Moore has a great photo article from 15 October about how to make mozzarella.  It is definately worth taking a look at!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Les Fromagers de Tradition @ la Fromagerie de la Houssaye

What makes a great cheese?  Contented animals, good raw milk, traditional methods of production, know how, but most important - passion! 

Serge le Chevallier at Les Fromagers de Tradition, la Fromagerie de la Houssaye makes some of the most amazing cheeses from Normandy you will ever encounter. Livarot and Pont l'Eveque are the specialities of the house. All made with raw milk from their herds in the lieu-dit called la Houssaye, located in the Pays d'Auge, these are award winning cheeses.  

The Livarot won the Silver medal and the Pont l'Eveque won the Gold medal at the 2013 Salon d'Agriculture in Paris. We had the privelege of meeting Monsieur le Chevallier at the Fromagerie where he was kind enough to give us a tour of his facility and explain their fabrication techniques and then let us taste his cheeses in situe.  

A natural presenter, le Chevallier regaled us with the techniques of this artisanal process he and his 17 employees use for cheese making. It was truly fascinating to learn that a Livarot, round in form, and a Pont l'Eveque, square in shape, start out exactly the same and do not start to become their respective cheeses until around the salage (salting stage). 

While Livarot, otherwise known as le Colonel, is big and meaty, a very masculin cheese; Pont l'Eveque is soft and milky, like milk fresh from the cow and could be described as feminine. We tasted these cheeses with a beautiful, crisp white wine, but some say a dry cidre brut would work equally well. 

With their cousin, Camembert, these cheeses make up the Normand big three and typify all that is good about Normandy. For us a Domaines & Terroirs, we were truly honoured to be able to sample the very best of these cheeses with a most talented cheese maker.

Why Raw Milk?

A quote at Graindorge in Normandy

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Vive le Terroir

A very interesting article called Vive le Terroir in the NYTimes recently by Steven Erlanger discusses the idea of French terroir as it exists today here in this wonderful country.  Having just spent eight days in this very region on a Domaines & Terroirs Journey with a wonderful family eager to discover this very concept for the southern Causses, it was extremely timely.

Home of the Cathars, Templiers and some of the most beautiful villages in France, terroir in this region of ancient wine varieties and wonderful cheeses like Roquefort, Bleu de Causses, Pérail, Cabécou, Pélardon, Rocamadour, le Rouelle du Tarn from la Fromagerie du Pic and la Cardabelle from la Fromagerie de Hyelzas and safran, lamb from Quercy, chesnuts and walnuts, foie gras and all things duck, make it a region full of things to discover and terroir is everywhere.  (More on the Journey in later posts!)


Friday, 31 May 2013

Cheese - the soul of the earth



[French ter-wahr / ter' wa] noun

The conditions in which a foodstuff is grown or produced giving the food its unique characteristics. 

The French Ministry of Agriculture definition : a combination of land specificity and human savoir-faire 

Origin: French: literally, 'soil, land', from Medieval Latin terratorium 

In France, this mythical word represents simply the land. And yet, it is more than the soil and climate or geological and hydrological conditions. It is the quintessence of agriculture, the combination of geography, people and culture. While the meaning has been greatly debated across the wine world as to whether it is a real factor or not, in the art of cheese, it is self-evident. This is not an elitist concept; rather it is a respect for the locality, the history and the people who create the product. 

With cheese in France, as with many other artisanal products here, these elements of tradition can be traced to when people were isolated from one another and other communities. With their particular climate, the vegetal species, the race of their animals and the chemical structure of their milk and personal interaction, individuals in small communities began to produce products particular to their region; each exhibiting differences in taste, in texture and in shape. 

Terroir represents locality, continuity and consistency which we find in region specific cheeses. Each of them provides us with a vision of the cultural diversity of their area as well as the shared habits of the local people and their interaction with the surrounding environment. We come to realize that "terroir is all about human intervention."  

Terroir represents locality, continuity and consistency which we find in region specific cheeses. Each of them provides us with a vision of the cultural diversity of their area as well as the shared habits of the local people and their interaction with the surrounding environment. We come to realize that "terroir is all about human intervention." 

Interactive map
To codify this combination of the basic identity, the knowledge it represents and to help preserve the regional specificity of a group of categories of foods, produce, wine and cheese, the French developed a system known as l’Appelation d’Origine Controllée (AOC). The process is in-depth and exacting. It documents the essence of the cheese: its historical framework, the its agricultural dictates such as breed of animal, location, vegetation and all the processes used to create the cheese. 

The process attempts to define, if not the soul of a cheese, its roots. The first AOC cheese to be protected by this status was Roquefort in 1925. Currently 46 cheeses have l’Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée designation in France; 29 cow, 14 goat and 3 sheep milk cheeses. There hundreds more French cheeses which display unique regionality and typicity.  There are some fun websites that let you view the regions and their associated AOC cheeses, which you click on a region and the AOC cheeses will come up. 

The European Union has used it as the basis of an EU wide programme – l’Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP) which is of similar scope and more stringent in some of its requirements.

Our fascination with this intervention, this interaction, this portal into the soul of the earth is what we here at Domaines & Terroirs seek to discover through journeys into the countryside.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Heavenly Époisses !

Mousse tiède d’époisses au pain d’épices et sa tartine 
Is it possible to improve on something that is already perfect? As most cheeseheads know, Époisses as a cheese is, well perfect. And in my humble opinion, it is the best, the one, the king of cheese. Onctuous, flavourful, full of umami and yes smelly. This weekend we were in Bourgogne (Burgundy) to research this area of beautiful scenery, fabulous wine, amazing food and yes cheese! Some of France's most beautiful châteux, the best wines and starred restaurants can be found in this region, just a couple hours south of Paris. Also Burgundian cheeses (in French) are some of the best French cheeses...Époisses, l'Ami du Chambertin, Brillat-savarin, Chaource, Charolais, Clacbitou, Langres, Soumaintrain and many many more.  

One of the things one does when one goes to research a place is sample all of the wonderful products that come forth from its amazingly rich terroir and Bourgogne does not disappoint. So after doing some damage to the pocketbook at Le Château Pommard, off we went to lunch in this tiny little village at what would turn out to be the best find of the trip, the restaurant Auprès du Clocher, where chef Jean-Christophe Moutet practices his magic. And ô! what magical things come out of that kitchen.  

The entrée was l'Oeuf à la neige en meurette d'escargots de Bourgogne (a poached egg in an egg white soufflé sitting in a pool of a red wine and shallot reduction and Burgundian escargots), followed by the main - Joue de boeuf confite au vin rouge en Parmentier (a red wine confit of beef cheek under a cloud of potatoe purée) and the finale was a thing of intense beauty: Mousse tiède d'époisses au pain d’épices et sa tartine (a warm mousse of époisses with a gingerbread base accomanied by its very own slab of perfect époisses on toast)!

Each one of these dishes was more intense than the one before it, and yet for a cheesehead, the dessert was kind of like heavan on earth. The mousse was a warm, feather light cream, like a sabayon, of époisses with crunchy pieces of toasted pain d'épices at the bottom, in to which you dunked a toasted slice of pain de campagne topped with slabs of absolutely perfect é I said more perfect than perfect. Époisses is pretty big as a cheese but somehow each bit of this combination was an A Ha! moment. All the beautiful, round flavours of this meaty cheese were on display, smoothed by the cream and punctuated by the sweet, toasted gingerbread. Félicitation au chef! c'était un merveille!

If you are ever in the region, make sure you head straight to Pommard to visit this most charming chef.
By then, he will certainly have stars attached to his name !

Auprès du Clocher


Auprès du Clocher
1 rue de Nackenheim


Tél: +33 (0)3 80 22 21 79 

l'Oeuf à la neige en meurette
Joue de boeuf confite en Parmentier

Friday, 25 January 2013

The New Art of Cheese Writing

'Galets de Cher  It’s like getting the high of a Bikram Yoga class without the heat, the postures and the drill sergeant instructor.'   

Now that's what I call a description!  Apparently in the US, and in particular in NY, cheesemongers create little odes to each of their cheese to help tantalize customers into trying a cheese.  So a bit of creative writing added to great personalities with lots of knowledge about this most wonderful product and wow, how cool is that? I can imagine this happening in the UK but never in France!  This is too bad as it really seems like a natural part of the process of marrying nature, terroir, skill and personality.  

Take a look at this article In the Dairy Case, Ripe Prose, by  in the NYTimes January 22, 2013 and read all about it.