All things cheese in France

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!)