An unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Savoie in eastern France. Shaped and pressed and then stored three to nine months. It has a hard golden-brown rind while the paste is pale-yellow, smooth and semi-solid. A complex, fruity flavor with hints of nuts. AOP since 1990.
To drink: Local Savoie white wines. Chablis. Light and fruity reds such as Beaujolais, but also elegant Burgundies without too much oak.
Chaumes is a cow’s milk cheese from the Dordogne area in south-west France. This is a relatively common cheese and usually pasteurized. Check if you can get it unpasteurized. Washed rind cheese this also, with a distinctive golden soft crust with a clear tangerine-orange color. The cheese is smooth with slightly rubbery consistency. A nutty and slightly meaty taste, but a very mild cheese. A cheese children may well enjoy. Melts well.
To drink: Dry white wines. Ale or dry cider, the cider may well be carbonated.
A semi firm cow’s milk cheese from the Picardy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais region in northwestern France. The cheese is sold packed in rectangular boxes. Orange rind that is damp and smells quite strongly. Being matured from two weeks to about four months. Farmstead variety is always unpasteurized, so look for it, at least in specialty cheese shops. Maroilles is at its best between May and August, matured eight to ten weeks. This is a cheese for the connoisseur as it develops strong barnyard aromas and a tight but good taste. AOP since 1976.
To drink: Champagne but also Gewürztraminer vendage Tardive (late harvest). Marc de Bourgogne or Marc de Champagne will work fine for those who want something stronger. A Brown ale also pairs well for those who swear to beer.
A very famous cow’s milk cheese this with its distinctive ash stripe in the middle. Basically unpasteurized. The unpasteurized has had AOP protection since 2000. From the Jura in the Franche-Comté. Aged for one to two months. Yellowish, slightly moist and leathery inedible rind, while the cheese is ivory colored, with this stripe of ash in the middle. Very mild with a nutty aftertaste. The pasteurized commercial version available at every corner store is, with all due respect, dull.
To drink: Chardonnay. Mature Riesling. East side Bordeaux, but the latter only with young varieties of the cheese (the unpasteurized version).
Cow milk cheese from the Loire Valley. Washed and pressed, then stored for one month. Bright orange rind that you should not eat. The paste is pale yellow. Smooth and supple texture and a very mild, almost delicate taste. Note!! This is an original Trappist cheese, but today hardly anything but commercial and incredibly bad copies are available.
To drink: Red Loire wines or Beaujolais. This is a typical Trappist cheese, so it may also fit well with a not so pronounced rapist beer.
A semi firm unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Auvergne in central France. We talk about Le Massif Central. Same area as the Salers cheese comes from and even milk from the same Salers breed. Pronounced scent and taste of barnyard, but apart from that pretty nutty flavor. The paste is relatively compact with a silky texture, straw-colored with a few scattered holes. This comes, like most other varieties, also in pasteurized form. The unpasteurized farmstead variety (fermier) are (as usual) far better than the industrial ones. Very colorful thin rind that certainly is edible although it may not invite a bite. AOP protection since 1955.
To drink: A light and fruity wine such as Beaujolais, Valpolicella or red Loire fits well. Do you prefer white wine so try a dry and fruity one.
Tome des Bauges
A pressed, semi firm unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Savoie. AOP protection since 2002. Can be made of either whole milk or “skimmed milk” from the breed Montbeliard, Abondance and/or Tarine (Tarentaise), of which the latter two must constitute at least half of the cattle. So be it! The rind is fairly thick and rough covered by a mold (mucor) that is often called “cat hair”. The cheese paste is ivory-white with some holes. Small cheese wheel between 1.1 and 1.4 kilos, you may well buy a whole cheese. Tasteful and decorative. A very attractive cheese that has been made in the Bauges Valley for long. Look for cheese with a green label, it is farmstead. Red label is industrial. A well hidden gem of a cheese this. Total production less than 500 tons per year, of which about 100 tons are fermier.
To drink: Local dry white wine; Abymes de Savoie. For local red, the Mondeuse apply. Alternatively, a red ripe Hermitage. Nothing less.
Another cow’s milk cheese from Auvergne. A rather dull greyish rind, but the flavor is quite complex with nuts and herbal aromas ending up with a taste of mushrooms. The paste is ivory colored and with a consistency that is wonderfully soft and melts on the tongue.
To drink: Red Burgundy or some other elegant Pinot Noir wines.
A great cow’s milk cheese from Savoie. Crayeuse means limed. Exciting fragrances, steaming earth, straw and butter and hints of citrus. Slightly creamy consistency despite that it is semi firm when it is well-ripe. Earthy flavor that comes from the rind formed during maturation in natural caves.
To drink: Prime red Rhone wines.
Tomme de Chèvre
This is a spring cheese from goat milk, at least if it comes from Poitou-Charentes. It is unpasteurized. The cheese is semi firm but can also turn dry/solid depending on the time of maturation. Fragrances of hay or grass which probably is due to the season it is made with all the spring flowers that goats eat. The paste is compact, fine and delicate, off-white with a brownish rind. Similar cheeses are produced in other regions, and it is not at all certain all are unpasteurized. Therefore, check that it says “au lait cru” on the label.
To drink: Dry white wines, both from Bordeaux and Burgundy. Rich ripe reds without much oak.
Tomme des Bois Noirs
A semi firm unpasteurized goat’s milk cheese from Saint Just en Chevalet, located south-west of Roanne. From up in the mountains at about 1000 meters altitude in the midst of some dense pine forests, hence the name. Along the main road between St. Etienne and Clermont Ferrand. If we are not right in the middle of Le Massif Central we certainly are on the outskirts. Only one dairy that makes this cheese, owned by Mons the affineur. Comes in wheels at around one and a half kilos, with a fantastic and colorful rind. A pale yellow paste with a few scattered small holes. Fine goat flavor that is by no means flashy, but also hint of nuts and forest floor. A very good cheese.
To drink: Good, ripe Chardonnay without pronounced oak. Alternatively, a young and fruity red.
Abbaye de Bellocq
This is a ewe’s milk cheese from the Pyrenees which are made in the traditional way by Benedictine monks of the Notre-Dame de Belloc Monastery. It has a great dense texture with high fat content. The cheese is unpasteurized, made from milk that comes from neighboring farms every day. The cheese has a natural crispy brownish rind interspersed with red, orange and yellow. Loving care in the maturation gives a rich (slightly burnt) caramel flavor that makes one eat it with the risk of becoming dependent.
To drink: Red burgundy or mature Bordeaux wines.
Fromage de Brebis Vallée de l’Ossau
A cheese from the western href=”http://www.routedufromage-ossauiraty.fr/” target=”_blank”> Pyrenées . AOC status since 1980 Semi firm and pale yellow paste with a few holes. Matured at least 5 months. Beautiful and elegant taste without the sheep’s milk becoming too dominant. Unpasteurized fermier cheese that is in season from spring to autumn. Excellent eating on vacation in Biarritz and thereabout.
To drink: Mature red and white wines. Certainly Bordeaux or Madiran from the Tannat grape.
These are cheeses that have been produced for about a 1000 years. Ewe’s milk and unpasteurized, but there are also pasteurized industriel versions. AOP protection since 1980. From the Aquitaine area thus far southwest of France. The name derives from the areas it comes from; thus Ossau Valley in the Bearn and Iraty mountains in the French Basque. Like most hard cheeses it stores well. Yellow orange color with gray rind. Sweetish butter tones and roasted nuts. Fits well with cherry jam or quince jam if you can get it.
To drink: Mature red and white wines. Certainly Bordeaux or Madiran from the Tannat grape.
Tomme du Berger
A blend of goat and ewe’s milk. Two French brothers came up with this cheese. One had goats and a dairy farm in Provence, the other had sheep in Corsica. Today made in Sardinia, of all places. Unpasteurized washed rind. Brought to France for maturation, as I define the cheese as French. Some cheese is matured in Provence, some by Mons in St Haon le Chatel. Great white semi firm paste with small holes. The rind is brown and beige to orange. Mild and fine flavor with hint of barnyard. A very good cheese. Manufactured by shepherds and may thus have some variety. The name; “Berger” means shepherd in French. The shepherd’s cheese this.
To drink: A Riesling with a hint of residual sugar.