I attended two work shops, the first being on the cheeses of the Auvergne region where I live in France.
A presentation was given by MARIE DE METZ NOBLAT of WWW.FROMAGIUM.FR.
The English version of her blog is called Caseophile.
Whilst it was an excellent presentation on the AOC cheeses of the Auvergne, it did not present the many producers in the Auvergne who have decided NOT to become members of their local AOC.
Happily Olivier from Fromagerie Nivesse in Clermont Ferrand made up for this by organising a tasting of 4 cheeses, only three of which were AOC cheeses.
It's worth remembering that AOC is NOT necessarily a guarantee of quality. The more likely stamp of quality - but not always - is 'fermier' cheese (farm) which is cheese that MUST be produced at the farm using the milk of the cows from the farm.
However, there is no obligation for a farmer in a given region to participate in his or her local AOC and many don't.
This is because they are often at odds at with the very wide generic definitions of the cheese that can carry the local AOC mark, and often at odds with the quality of the local AOC mark.
A good example of this would be Laurent's 'Fourme Fermier'.
It is produced at his farm, by he and his two colleagues in a co-operative set up. It is near to Ambert (of the AOC Fourme D'Ambert), in fact much nearer than most of the milk which goes into making AOC Fourme D'Ambert).
What is more, his cheese is 'fermier', and of all the AOC Fourme D'Ambert, one of the great secrets is how little of the cheese AOC Fourme D'Ambert is 'fermier' (there is just ONE AOC fermier producer); and how little of the milk suppliers to the industrial cheese makers that make AOC Fourme D'Ambert come from anywhere near Ambert - indeed much of the milk doesn't even come from the department which Ambert is situated in (Puy de Dome).
But that's another story, and perhaps one of the reasons Laurent's cheese can be found in Michelin stared restaurants and the best cheese shops accross France.
Indeed the French magazine L'Express, one of the biggest selling magazines in France with a weekly circulation of 650,000, when writing about Laurent's cheese, said that the only problem with this sublime fourme is that when you taste it, it will make you think less of any other fourme you have ever tasted.
Along with Marie's presentation there was a tasting of four different cheeses:
A garlic flavoured cheese (East)
A 'tomme fermier' (South)
A cantal (West)
The following photos are of the slides from Marie's presentation. They are in French and I'm afraid I don't have the time to translate them at the moment, but if you would like further information, you can write to me at info AT ianwalthew.com.
For now I have added the web site for each of the AOC cheeses mentioned, and each of these sites can be accessed in English.
"For cheese lovers (caesus = cheese, phile=who likes) here is an English version of the French blog "Fromagium" written by Marie de METZ NOBLAT, consultant in cheese marketing - creation of cheese & wine events. You will find here infos on cheeses, cheeses & wines… Caseophile & Fromagium: all you always wanted to know about cheese !"
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