Pont l’Évêque from Normandy

Pont l'Évêque
Pont l’Évêque Hossaye

Pont l’Évêque has a lot in common with Livarot, but I find it at times more approachable than the latter. Apart from the fact it is square and difficult to spell Pont l’Évêque it appears milder and more elegant than its perhaps more famous relative – ranking higher as well, colonel as it is. A very pleasing cheese Pont l’Évêque.

Cheese with a history

Pont l’Évêque is known as far back as the 12th century, even under different names, such as d’Angelot according to Cheese.com. Its present square look was acquired during the 1800s mostly to distinguish from just the Livarot. As you probably notice from the picture above it is a very appealing cheese, very clean and delicate rind, but don’t be fooled by that. Rightly so, no wolf in sheep’s clothing, but it is a washed rind cheese and it does come with a personality of its own. Usually packed in a wooden box, not being very important other than for safe transport.

Pont l’Évêque – a town and a county

Pont l’Évêque is also a town and a county situated in the department of calvados, a short distance inland from the coast where the more famous beach town of Deauville right south of where the river Seine hits the ocean or the English channel if you like. A wonderful area to visit by the way, full of history, both recent and more distant. Nothing like the mediterranean, and expect a shower or two.

To drink

What to drink with a cheese from an area full of apples? Calvados obviously, the apple brandy. if you find it somewhat on the strong side, there is cider. Still or sparkling, but I recommend dry. Enjoy.

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Parmigiano Reggiano Vacca Bianca Modenese

Parmigiano Reggiano Vacca Bianca Modenese
Parmigiano Reggiano Vacca Bianca Modenese

Parmigiano Reggiano vacca bianca modenese is a rare visitor outside Italy, while the “same” cheese from vacche rosse is more common, and that is a good thing. It is available, more expensive and better. If that means consumers are buying it is another thing, perhaps most think Parmesan is Parmesan.

What’s so special with Parmigiano Reggiano Vacca Bianca Modenese?

Well, it’s one of the original breeds giving rather small amounts of milk, but good milk well suited for cheese making. The vacca bianca originates as a cross breed from vacche rosse which is a much older breed and the other original “supplier” of milk for Parmigiano Reggiano.

Basically there were three factors making the vacca bianca modenes favourable. In this context the milk of course, but also from a meat perspective, renowned for its quality. Finally the breed used to be a very good “workhorse”. Where we earlier used horses and today tractors, the cow did the job. And we can still experience this in countries less mechanised that our western world.

However, with a Parmigiano Reggiano world market emerging, the demand for more milk grew, as did the need for more efficient milking. Vacce bianca modenese is not well suited for mechanical milking. While there were about 230 000 beasts during the 50’s it had fallen to a mere 800 at the start of the new millennium. That’s dramatic. Not that many more today, it must be admitted, but at least the development goes in the right direction. It takes a while to restructure a whole breed in a good way.

The Rosola dairy in Zocca

Parmigiano Reggiano Vacca Bianca Modenese
Parmesan of milk from white cow, matured for 29 months.

The Rosola dairy in Zocca in the Modena province, an hours drive from Bologna, was the first dairy to transition to making Parmigiano Reggiano from vacca bianca modenese milk. Since then it seems like three other dairies have joined the movement. A vey limited production.

Is Vacca Bianca Modenese a very old breed?

No, it is not. As said above it originates from vacche rosse. The cheese is much older. Remember though, the Parmigiano Reggiano hjas not always been world famous like today. Originally it was very much an Italian household cheese for everyday use like some other varieties. Is there an Italian recipe without grated hard cheese of some sort? Then the Italian emigration started, and the Italians want thing just like home, so they missed their cheese. And from there a world market emerged demanding larges production units, being it milk production or cheese making.

That’s where the Holsteins come in. It is not very well customised for the assignment, though. The milk is not well suited for cheese making, the breed does not thrive under the Italian climatic conditions with a very short life span. Have not heard anything about the meat quality, but that does not have to be negative.

Parmigiano Reggiano Vacca Bianca Modenese
A proper tool is important

Three or four dairies?

I believed there were four, but it seems like it is only three dairies making cheese from vacca bianca modenese milk and as it is, they’re all in the Modena province. The last two mentioned below have joined the Slow Food presidium to save the breed.

Consorzio Valorizzazione Prodotti Razza Bianca Modenese i Valpadana Serramazzoni, Modena

Caseificio Rosola i Zocca, Modena

Caseificio Santa Rita i Serramazzoni, Modena

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Edmund Tew – heard about him?

Edmund Tew
Edmund Tew

Edmundt Tew is an English soft cheese made by Australian immigrants to England to commemorate Brits that were expelled to Australia for varoious reasons. Poor Edmund Tew from Leicester was deported to Australia in 1829, only 16 years old. He was sentenced to seven years banishment. If he ever returned to England, I do not know.

Edmund Tew heard his sentence with the most perfect indifference

According to The Leicester Chronicle he was fairly indifferent to what was going on around him when the judge read out the sentence. And his crime justifying seven years in Australia? Seems like he had stolen a bread, some cheese and a beer from a gentleman in Leicester. I can like that, not the stealing of course, but the pairing. Not just some bread or some beer. He was not alone being deported for rather minor offences.

A cheese with an attitude

Like the youth the cheese is named after, Edmund Tew is a cheese with an attitude. Originally inspired by the French cheese Langres. But the Australian cheesemakers at Blackwoods Cheese Company in Kent have created their own touch. Raw milk of course, organic cow’s milk. Flavour is funky and farmy. A cheese with a feature. Not washed like the original, and no annatto either. Geotrichum on the other hand is very present. In addition there is a bit of white mould, Penicillium camemberti, contributing to the flavours.

To drink

Do as Edmund Tew did, have a beer. I suppose real ale was dominating at the time so I would choose a Bitter. That said, Langres comes Champagne-Ardenne so locally they fancy a glass of Champagne with their cheese. England is not that far behind regarding bobbles and Kent has its Gusbourne. Excellent choice.


Probably not available outside Britain.

Thanks to: Borough market, Blackwoods Cheese Company

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Grana Padano straordinario

grana padano
Grana Padano – a belittled cheese.

Just accept it, Grana Padano does not receive the accaims it deserves. As far as I know, this is Italy’s most bought cheese, and with a longer history than Parmigiano Reggiano. I frequently use Grana Padano when I need cheese for grating being it risotto or some paste dish. I do not know how it is in your market, but where I live the cheese is overpriced. Too close in appearance to Parmigiano Reggiano, so there is a gamle the consumers regard it as a Parmesan and it is priced accordingly. But still, somewhat cheaper, without that influencing my choice. It’s about variation. And it’s a good cheese.

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