ACS, Appreciating the greats, certified cheese professional exam, French cheeses, Pont l'eveque, tasting cheese, Tasting the Greats

Appreciating the Greats: Pont l’Eveque

I knew that The Missus would say something about the smell, she tends to. The cheese sat, quietly in its box, for a week in our vegetable crisper before it began to waft through the refrigerator.  The smell was strong enough to touch your nose, even when you opened the door to the freezer. But, being accustomed to comments being made when I’ve hidden a washed rind in the refrigerator, I preempted her and said, “It’s my cheese,” when she opened the door.

Pont l’Eveque is said to have existed, though known by another name, since the 12th century. It is produced by only 6 makers in the Normandy region of France, which is also home to Camembert, and they share the same wild mushroom aroma and velvety texture. Aside from the smell, the bright orange rind, which is created through the process of washing, brushing and turning which encourages the growth of Brevibacterium linens–known as B. linens in the cheese world. 

Though around for over eight centuries, it did not gain AOC recognition until 1976. Today, that distinction requires the following in production:

  • The milk must come from a controlled area around the village of Pont-l’Évêque, extending to the départments of Calvados, Eure, Manche, Mayenne, Orne and Sein-Maritime. 
  • The curd must be successively divided, kneaded and then drained.
  • During affinage the cheeses must be washed, brushed and turned.
  • The resulting cheese must be one of three sizes:
    • Petit – 8.5-9.5 cm square, and a minimum of 85g of dry matter.
    • Demi – 10.5-11.5 cm by 5.2-5.7 cm, with a minimum of 70g of dry matter.
    • Grand – 19–21 cm square, with a minimum of 650g of dry matter.

 Because she was so vocal about this cheese, I invited The Missus to join me in my tasting.

Tasting Notes
Milk: Pasteurized Cow
Brand: L. Graindorge
Appearance:
     Rind: White, powdery-flour like rind with light orange hue underneath.
     Paste: Stark white, small eyes; young in age.
Smell:

     Rind: Mushrooms*, feet*, raw broccoli*
     Paste: Mushroom, hay
   
Mouthfeel: Creamy, but not runny, slightly firm at core
Flavor:  
     Paste: Slightly sour, peppery*, onion, hard boiled egg white. 
     Rind: Salty, nutty

*Notes from The Missus

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ACS, Appreciating the greats, certified cheese professional exam, cheese tastings, Comte, French cheeses

Appreciating the Greats: Comte

Comte is another French cheese, like Roquefort, to hold AOC protection and has done so since 1958. Those two cheeses however, are vastly different in make, composition and flavor profile.

Comte is made from raw cow’s milk and made in the Jura region of France, quite some distance from Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, and nestles itself closely to Switzerland.  So, it makes sense, that they would produce one of the most famous alpine, or ‘mountain’, style cheeses in the world and have done so for over 800 years. Though it is said to be the most popular and consumed cheese in France, it seems that Gruyere gets more love stateside, especially when being mentioned in recipes.

Because of its AOC protection, Comte carries the following requirements in its production:

  1. Only milk from Montbeliarde Cattle or French simmental (or cross breeds of the two) are permitted, and each must have at least a hectare of grazing.
  2. Fertilization is limited, and cows may only be fed fresh, natural feed, with no silage.
  3. The milk must be transported to the site of production immediately after milking.
  4. Renneting must be carried out within a stipulated time after milking, according to the storage temperature of the cheese.
  5. Only one heating of the milk may occur, and that must be during renneting. It may be heated to no more than 40˚C.
  6. Salt may only be applied directly to the surface of the cheese.
  7. A casein label containing the date of production must be attached to the side of the cheese, and maturing must continue for at least four months.
  8. No grated cheese may be sold under the Comté name.

Tasting Notes
Milk: Raw Cow
Brand: Les 3 Comtoi
Appearance: 
     Rind: Tannish, labled with blue and white ‘Comte’ label and AOC branding
     Paste:Golden in color; paste looks full and rich; no fissures, eyes or imperfections
Smell:

     Rind: Musty, moldy
     Paste: Toast, toffee
   
Mouthfeel: Smooth, pliable with no graininess
Flavor: Brown butter at the center; moving up–closer to the rind–more meatiness. Rind produces huge mushroom finish and lingers, similar to white button or grilled portabella.

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12 days of cheesemas, cheese advent calendar, cow's milk cheese, French cheeses, stinky cheeses, Trou du Cru cheese, washed rinds

12 Days of Cheesemas–Day 12

(photo from SFGate)

The little button of Trou du Cru is the perfect blend of sweet and pungent. Essentially, it’s a pocket sized Epoisses cheese, washed with the same Marc de Bourgogne alcohol as it’s larger brother. The nose on it is strong, but it’s bark is much worse than it’s bite. The paste is a combination of butter and straw that lingers long on the pallet. It’s size is ideal for a single serving, for those who don’t like to share their cheeses, but would be right at home at the end of a cheese plate shared with friends.

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12 days of cheesemas, cheese advent calendar, Clochette Cheese, French cheeses, goats milk cheese

12 Days of Cheesemas–Day 11

(photo from Fine Food Specialist)

Ahh, the Clochette.  If ever there was a cheese that was perfectly dressed for a cheese plate, it is the “little bell.”  With a white, slightly wrinkly rind, this young French goat’s milk cheese is mild and creamy, without much of the barnyard carrying over to the milk. But, because of transport time, we tend to get older, and more wrinkly, Clochettes in the states. This aging can make for a slightly more intense flavor, but takes absolutely nothing away from the sheer beauty of this cheese.

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