Savoie Mont Blanc has an abundance of different cheeses to offer! Alongside the legendary Beaufort and Reblochon, some 10 other varieties vie for the top spot. Thick and creamy or with a moulded rind, cut and spread with a knife or melted in a delicious raclette, you must get to know them all. Chances are these cheeses will keep you running back the dairy.
A valley, a cow, a cheese! In the Middle Ages, the monks of the Abondance Monastery cleared the land in the Chablais Valley and chose the cow breed that would result in this succulent cheese. It met with rapid success, for Abondance cheese was served at the Pope's table when he was elected in Avignon in 1381. With its pliable texture and mild hazelnut flavour, it wins over every gourmet.
The tartiflette's best friend owes its origins to a farmer’s trick. In the Middle Ages, farmers had to pay land owners for the right to let their cows graze. Because the tax was based on the volume of milk collected, farmers adopted the habit of only partially milking their cows. The milk collected secretly during the second round of milking was immediately turned into cheese. This is where Reblochon came from: in the Savoy dialect, "re-blocher" means "pinching the cow's udder a second time".
Here is a cheese that has not lost its nickname as "Prince of the Gruyères". While its name did not emerge until the 19th century, its origins date to Roman times. Its characteristics: a concave heel, fruity flavour and delicate aromas awarded with a registered designation of origin (AOC) in 1968. This star of the cheeseboard is also a key ingredient in many recipes, including fondue, of course, as well as soufflée.
The rare goat cheese in the middle of the plate almost seems like an outsider. And yet, in the 17th century, every mountain dweller had a few goats because they were a guaranteed source of meat and suet for candle making. This small cheese with a white rind and a delicate white interior earned its AOC in 2002. Its production zone is limited to four massifs: Mont-Blanc, Chablais, Aravis and Bauges.
A dry, sturdy rind protects a bright cheese that is thick and creamy with a mild flavour. With its impressive dimensions, Emmental de Savoie is a member of the gruyère family. Made in the Savoyard forecountry, each wheel weighs nearly 70 kg and requires over 1,000 litres of milk. Often shredded for consumption, it is also one of the ingredients in the celebrated Fondue Savoyarde.
What causes the holes in Emmental de Savoie? The answer is simple: they are caused by ageing, which begins in a cold cellar and ends in a warm cellar. This change in atmosphere gives the cheese its characteristic openings, called "eyes".
Its name unfailingly conjures up images of winter nights spent with friends after a day of skiing. However, in the Middle Ages, shepherds were already eating "roasted cheese". The term "raclette" appeared in 1874. It is true that the particularly pliant, creamy texture of Raclette de Savoie makes it the ideal cheese to consume melted.
This small cheese with a saffron-coloured rind and creamy interior was born in the Thônes valley in the 13th century. Its AOC was awarded in 1958 and it is always produced above an altitude of 500 m, in Haute-Savoie and in the Val d’Arly in Savoy. Delicately arranged on its thin circle of spruce, it can be eaten all year round, but preferably in the spring and summer when the cows graze in high mountain pastures.
With a large blue Maltese Cross emblazoned on its packaging, this cheese is easy to spot. Slightly larger than the Reblochon, to which it bears a resemblance, this cheese with a subtle, fruity flavour has been made by the Trappist monks at the Tamié Abbey for nearly 900 years.
No, there is no spelling error; the Tome des Bauges has only one "m". Why? Simply because in Savoy dialect, "toma" means "cheese made in high mountain pastures". With its lovely, slightly moulded rind, this is the rustic, convivial cheese to share in a simple setting or to pull out of your rucksack for a mid-ramble snack.
This is a very old cheese, which farmers used to make in the winter when the cows stayed in the stable. With just a few litres of milk, each farm prepared its butter, cream and Tomme to meet the needs of the family. Today there are many varieties: mountain tomme, creamy tomme, mite tomme...each of them harbours a unique aroma and taste under its grey rind.
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