Abbaye de Tamié
As the name indicates this cheese is made at a monastery, l’abbaye de Notre-Dame de Tamié in the Savoy (Savoie) region of eastern France bordering Italy and Switzerland. The monastery is situated 900 meters above sea level at the eastern periphery of the Bauge mountain range. Made from raw cow’s milk, with a washed rind.
Reblochon style, but the flavor is more expressed than the Reblochon. The monastery receives their milk from 14 farms in the vicinity, i.e. the Tamié valley. They make cheese every day from about 4200 litres of milk. The cheese is aged at 14 degrees centigrade for three to four weeks in their own cellars. The «real» cheese comes in wheels of 1,5 kg, but they also make a smaller one; 550 – 600 g. Wrapped in paper, easily recognizable by the blue print and the Maltese cross as a kind of logo. The rind tends towards saffron yellow, while the paste is beige with a smooth and creamy texture with small holes. Natural milk aroma with a fruity and delicate taste.
To drink: Whites from the Savoie region works well, as do Trappist beer.
Abbaye de Citeaux
A cow’s milk cheese from the monastery by the same name located just south of Dijon in France. This is the «mother-cheese» to the Norwegian Munkeby. Abbaye de Citeaux is not very well known outside of France, but a good and reputable cheese anyway. Reblochon style. The cheese is as soft as it looks and you notice when you get it in your mouth. Unlike many other washed rind cheeses is this very mild with creamy texture and taste. This is now made from thermised milk, while it used to be unpasteurized.
To drink: Delicious white Burgundy or Chablis. Light fruity reds from Beaujolais or Loire. Alternatively, since this is made in a monastery, why not try beer; Trappist beer for instance.
L’Ami du Chambertin
A cow’s milk cheese from Burgundy. A very young cheese, made the first time in 1946 and has a funny story that is worth exploring for those with special interests. The name originated as a nickname after the founder of the cheese factory, Raymond Gaugry took some of his cheese around the vineyards in the area for cheese and wine tasting. This way they found out that the cheese went well with local wines which, it should be noted, is also quite fashionable. Thus came the name «Chambertin-friend» – L’Ami du Chambertin. It is an Epoisses style from the very same area in Burgundy. This is a washed rind cheese that strangely enough since 2008 has been made of pasteurized milk. It could of course have something to do with export to the United States. The cheese is washed in Marc de Bourgogne (Marc is the French answer to Grappa) and it shows when you eat it. Milder than Epoisses but otherwise very similar. Fromagerie Gaugry makes Epoisses as well.
To drink: Red Burgundy, Chambertin, or at least a village Gevrey or Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune.
Cow’s milk cheese from the Ile-de-France, ie, the region around Paris. Aged for at least 4 weeks. Pale straw colored curd and thin edible rind with some white mold. Soft and creamy texture with a rich and harmonious flavor. Can often give flavor associations towards raw mushrooms. A genuine Brie is made from unpasteurized milk. Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun are both AOP, but there are a lot of others coming from the area: Brie Fermier, Brie de Montereau, Brie de Nangis, Brie de Provins and Brie de Coulommiers are all worth trying, but some are very rare and local. Then you have Brie Noir, matured for a year.
To drink: Red wine from the east side of Bordeaux, i.e. Merlot based wine, light and fruity wines such as Beaujolais or a village Syrah. If you want to drink a white wine, try a half dry Sauvignon blanc or preferably Riesling, not to mention Champagne, it is after all the neighbor. The Brie Noir: dip it in Café-au-lait for breakfast.
A cow’s milk cheese made mainly in Normandy. Invented around 1930 by Henri Androuët, a then famous cheese affineur from Paris. Soft, creamy both in texture and taste with hints of butter. This is a feel good cheese. Pasteurised, triple cream. Matures from one to two weeks up to a few months. Thin, soft, white and certainly edible rind and a pale yellow paste.
To drink: A cheese with this name deserves that you try some Champagne. Alternatively a semi sweet white wine, such as a Jurançon. However, this cheese works great with Chablis as well.
Basically, a cow’s milk cheese from Normandy, but since they originally forgot to protect the name, a Camembert may come from anywhere. Today the name Camembert represents more a style than a cheese from a given area. As far as I know there is only one farmstead producer in Normandy who make Camembert. A Camembert coming from Normandy matures for about four weeks. Covered with white edible mold with brown spots. Do not be distracted by it, does not in any way indicate that the cheese is too old, it’s the way it should be. Creamy and buttery texture, yellowish paste yields to gentle pressure. Pronounced mushroom flavor. AOP Camembert, since 1983, will otherwise be of unpasteurized milk and called Camembert de Normandie.
To drink: On the white side; Champagne. I think this is a typical red wine cheese, though. Beaujolais, primarily one of the cru sites. But also a red Bordeaux or Châteauneuf-du-Pape on the slightly heavier side. If you would like to be very alternative do try dry sparkling cider or Calvados. White other than champagne; Burgundy.
Cow’s milk cheese from Champagne-Ardenne. The geographical protection AOP since 1970. According to the AOP rules Chaource can be both unpasteurized and pasteurized. Created as a small mini wheel matured for two to four weeks. Cheese with white flowered crust and pale yellow paste when it’s young, more creamy as it matures. Mature cheese has a nice nutty and salty taste. A little like Camembert, but creamier. A very traditional cheese which apparently originated back in the 1400s.
To drink: No problem to follow the golden rule of drinking local. Champagne. If you cannot stand champagne bubbles and acidity, try Chablis or Sancerre, even generic Chardonnay or Sauvignon blanc if you want copies.
Comtesse de Vichy
An unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Auvergne, specifically Vichy. Relatively new cheese since it was first made around 2004. Artisanal with a volume of about 35 tons a year. Disc formed cheese at about a pound and wrapped in bark to hold its shape. Bloomy rind that eventually will be furnished with yellowish specks. Fine pale yellow paste with some small scattered holes. Need some room temperature before eating, that will soften the cheese and release a lot of flavor. Might remind you of Coulommiers but Comtesse de Vichy has its own identity. Mild, but still with some character. Milk and herbs. A very good bloomy rind cheese in my opinion. And not very common.
To drink: A gentle east side Bordeaux. If you want to drink a white wine try a semi dry Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, not to speak of Champagne.
Unpasteurized or pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Burgundy. AOP since 1991. Washed with Marc de Bourgogne which gives a special flavor. Aged at least four weeks. Soft rind with a hint of orange that gets darker with age, so typical for washed rind cheeses. Creamy with an intense pungent aroma, but with a slender, smooth taste that makes your mouth water.
To drink: White wine on the sweet side, but also white or red Burgundy. Want a light red wine; try a village wine from the Rhône.
A pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Champagne. AOP since 1991 Washed rind and matured for up to two months. Has a clear orange colored and very edible rind. Dense texture and a rich cream taste with light acidic overtones. Also used to be unpasteurized, but alas those days are past. Still an excellent cheese though. Characteristic of its pit at the top because it is not turned during maturation. Colored with anatto. Pour some Champagne or Marc de Champagne in the pit before you serve it.
To drink: Champagne, of course, but also full-bodied white burgundy. If you are alternative and at a men’s club; try a Marc de Champagne.
Cow milk cheese from Normandy. Unpasteurized, pasteurized or thermized. AOP since 1975 Washed rind and stored up to three months before the sale. It has a smooth orange rind tied up with three to five bands around the cheese on the side. Pale yellow cheese with a few scattered holes. Soft fine texture with rich lightly spiced taste and intense aroma. Pungent. One of the cheeses that makes my family wish for a separate cheese fridge.
To drink: Young Chardonnay with this one, or sweet wines such as Barsac or Vouvray. Do you prefer something stronger, try Calvados. If you want to copy the locals; drink dry cider.
Unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the Jura area on both the French and Swiss side of the border. Is called Vacherin du Haut-Doubs and comes unpasteurized when French and Vacherin Mont d’Or and is thermized when it is Swiss. Washed rind and matured for five to seven weeks. Available from September to March. The rest of the year the milk used to make firm alpine cheese. Always packed in a small box of wood. Dusty white edible rind with orange stripes. The paste is off-white. Sweet and mild taste, soft initially and becomes very runny if it is left on the kitchen counter. 20 minutes in the oven, 180 degrees centigrade, cut off the top, eat with a spoon. Wonderful. AOP since 1981.
To drink: This is a cheese for the great whites!
One of my favorites. Unpasteurized cow’s milk cheeset from Alsace. Milk from cows that graze in the Vosges mountains. A washed rind cheese matured for three to six weeks. Important to get a cheese that is made on a farm; i.e. fermier. Orange-yellow to reddish exterior and a light golden, soft and smooth interior. Certainly edible rind, but it tends to become a bit «gritty» with age. When it becomes crunchy between my teeth; I cut it away. Comes in different sizes. Fantastic nice and rich flavor. Generally accepted as a stinker if there is anything called that. do not store it for long in your refrigerator, it well make its mark. The locals serve this cheese with cumin. AOP since 1969.
To drink: Alsace Gewürztraminer or nothing. For me at least.
Unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the Pay de Bray in northern Normandy. Also known as Cœur de Neufchatel when it is shaped like a heart. However, it can come in other shapes as well. Soft bloomy rind cheese, maybe not Normandy’s most famous but one of the oldest. AOP status since 1969. Soft and smooth texture with good milk flavor and forest floor / mushroom and moderate salt.
To drink: This is of course a great cheese for Valentine’s day and then I think a bottle of Champagne pairs well. Rest of the year you can get some inspiration from Brie.
Unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the coast of Normandy. AOP since 1972. Name and shape designed to distinguish it from Livarot. Washed rind, soft cheese that matures for six weeks. Square and comes in a wooden box. Lightly orange-brown on the outside but creamy and pale yellow on the inside. Soft and round nice flavor, wonderful texture and pronounced aroma. Also belongs to the slightly pungent soft cheeses.
To drink: A red wine cheese this. Merlot based wines such as St. Emilion and Pomerol. For white wine; try a Pinot Gris Tokay d’Alsace. Cider of course, since it comes from Normandy. Calvados or if you want to try a stronger brew. An Assam tea with milk will also be fine.
Cow’s milk cheese from the Rhone-Alpes region. Washed rind and stored for six weeks up to two months. The rind is whitish with a little hint of mold growth and a pale yellow curd. Rathe light in color to be washed. Soft and creamy texture, distinct herbal aroma, with a pronounced nutty flavor. One of the oldest AOP cheeses with protection since 1958.
To drink: Exquisite white Burgundies or Chablis. Light fruity reds from Beaujolais or Loire, but also east side Bordeaux if you want a slightly fuller body.
Saint Félicien is a raw cow’s milk cheese from south east France, more closely the Rhône-Alpes.
Similar to Saint-Marcellin, but is milder and richer. Invented in the 1950s in Lyon, but is now made up in the mountains. Like the Saint-Marcellin it’s a one serving cheese, around 150 g each. Matured from two to six weeks and develops a pale yellow, soft and absolutely edible bloomy rind.
To drink: White from the Rhône valley or a Puligny-Montrachet. Since this is a rich cheese your wine should contain some acid to handle the milk fat.
Another raw cow’s milk cheese from the Rhône-Alpes region (Dauphiné) in south east France. Originally made from goat’s milk, but frequent milk shortages have now turned it into a cow’s milk cheese. A very traditional fermier cheese (farmstead cheese) that is matured from to to six weeks before consumption.
Small, round and an ivory colored rind. Creamy, with a robust nutty and fruity taste especially when fully ripe. It gets easily runny so don’t leave it for too long in room temperature. Comes in a tiny terra cotta crock that can be used afterwards as a finger salt container to put on your table.
To drink: As above: White from the Rhône valley or a good Puligny-Montrachet. No less.
A tiny little (80g), soft, smooth and creamy farmstead cheese from raw ewe’s milk. Matured for two weeks. Rind is slightly moulded. Taste is mild, with a fine acidity, but sharpens with a little age. From the village of Hures-la-Parade in the Department of Lozère in Languedoc-Roussillon.
To drink: A dry white from the south of France, preferable Languedoc-Roussillon.