Cheeses in Savoie and Haute Savoie for you Kate
Savoie Mont Blanc has 8 major quality cheeses
Abondance, Beaufort, Chevrotin, Emmental de Savoie, Raclette, Reblochon,
Tome des Bauges, Tomme de Savoie.
I have found over 22 different varieties of the listed cheese above and others manufactured in Savoie and Haute Savoie. You can also visit over 60 sites dedicated to milk producers, farmers, shepherds, cheese Coops – (where the cheese matures).
Winston Churchill once said to General de Gaulle. « A country with 365 varieties of chesse can’t loose a war. How do you govern a country where 365 sorts of cheese exist ? ». Aparently now there are 1 200 different cheeses manufactured in France. Each coming from a particular region, milk, manufacturing and maturing process which gives a specific taste and texture. I have also heard that a particular goat cheese can’t remember the name has a different taste depending on the weather rain or shine. This makes fun while in a speciality cheese. For many of the 2000’s, there was a cheese desert. The speciality shops closed one after another. But luckily they’re back as are the Coops.
In France, agriculture, farming is an important part of the landscape, the lives of locals and the economy. The term Locavore is popular at the moment around the world but the (Haute) Savoyards have always been and will always be. We’re lucky to have an active and fervent farming culture here !
To counter act mass production of foodstuff for Supermarkets – 2 labels have been developed to protect farmers and consumers the AOC (French) and AOP (European). Look for them when out shopping, it is the sign of high quality product. Very few products get that kind of recognition.
AOC/AOP designates a product which all manufacturing steps are carried out according to recognized expertise in the same geographical area, which gives certain characteristics to the product. An official certification guaranteering the quality of French produce especially wines and cheeses.
IGP Indication géographique protégée – protected geographically identification.
Abondance cheese AOC/AOP comes from the Abondance valley in Haute Savoie and the Abondance cow. It’s a pressed cooked cheese made from unpasteurized whole milk. Used in Fondus and other cheese baked dishes. Described to taste like hazelnuts.
Beaufort AOC/AOP my favorite !! Is also a pressed cooked cheese from the Beaufort region in Savoie. Used in Fondus and Gratins, it’s the number one Savoyard cheese. When buying Beaufort in a cheese shop they might ask
Beaufort (manufactued November to May 67 700 whole cheeses made in 2015), Fruity and hazelnut taste.
Eté – Summer from June to October 51 700 whole cheese were produced in 2015, Stronger taste than the Beaufort d’hiver
Chalet d’Alpage – Grazing Season a smaller production of just 10 000 whole cheeses at 1500 meters altitude. A lighter sweeter taste.
Chevrotin AOC/AOP it’s a « farmers » cheese made from unpasturized goat milk that has not been refrigerated. It has a kind of pinkish crust and is small in size. Made from May to September and mature for 3 to 5 weeks minimum of 21 days. A cheese dating back to the 17th century made in the Chablais, the Bauges, Aravis mountain ranges and Chamonix. Bake it in an oven and pour it over endives or salad.
Tomme de Savoie AOC/AOP/IGP elaborated by families of farmers to survive the harsh winters and is probably one of the oldest cheeses of Savoie. Made from cow’s milk. Hard to explain it’s taste, but more of a harsher cheese, sometimes explained bitter. The taste develops as it ages so ask it’s age and buy it accordingly.
Emmental de Savoie AOC/AOP/IGP made from unpasterized cow milk in the northern Alps. Another of the pressed cooked cheese, sometimes confused with Gruyère. Commonly used for every melted cheese dish.
The German Emmental term comes « emme » a river and « thal » a valley.
La Raclette, originally from Switzterland but made in Savoie and Haute Savoie, is unpaturized cow’s milk pressed cooked. This cheese is melted under a burner and poured over potatoes with cold cuts. 12 weeks maturing. Maybe the one that has the least taste when uncooked, very rarely eaten uncooked.
Tome des Bauges AOC/AOP pressed uncooked cheese made from whole and 2% unpasturized cow’s milk in the Bauges massif. A nutty, heavier taste, similar of course to it’s cousin la Tomme de Savoie.
Reblochon or Reblochon de Savoie AOC/AOP My other favorite, comes from the mountainess massif of the Bornes and Aravis, specifically from the valleys of Thones, Val d’Arly and the Bauges.
Reblochon comes from the Savoyard term re-blocher meaning « milked twice » or reblasse. Legend has it that mountain farmers would milk first for the owner of the cows and a second time for themselves during the evening. During the Renaissance, the owners started to understand and control milking so that the farmers didn’t get too much. But what they didn’t realize was that the second milking is more abondant and richer in cream so higher in quality. The cheese produced in the valleys during the 16th was also called « piety cheese » given to the Chartreux monks for their benediction and blessings of the valley farms and farmers. Reblochon is made from whole unpasturized mountain cows milk, a softer cheese with a yellow-organish washed rind. And when it’s aged just right -cut into it and let sit. Little by little the some what hard center will become liquidy and run out of the rind.
Note that if you really want to experience the full flavor of your cheese don’t refrigrate ! They should be stored on a plate, covered with a cloche – cheese bell – in a dark cupboard. I know what you are thinking … what cupboard but that is how it is done here.
Bon Appétit !!!
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