Cheese seems to be top of mind this week, as I recently shared my three favorite French selections. Since it is the BIG day of eating and celebrating with Super Bowl at our virtual doorstep, let’s look at French cheeses to serve (and remember, you don’t need to wait for a party or guests to treat yourself at home!
We shall indulge with a rather more sophisticated menu than Americana’s chips, dips, wings and ribs. How about a magnificent roasted ham, Camembert cheese (oui and a touch of Havarti), croissants and a tantalizing bowl of fruit (or savory salad, if the fruit isn’t up to par this time of year). For me, the cheese is the prima donna…the very thought of French cheeses and choices takes me to Auvergne’s “Cheese Road”. Enjoy the journey with me!
You frequently hear about renowned wine routes in France, but did you know there is a charming “Cheese Road”? It’s true, and the Auvergne region of central France is proud to be the only region in the country to produce 5 PDO cheeses (Protected Designation of Origin – much like the AOC wine designations).
The diverse lay of the land, from Monts du Forez and Puy de Sancy to the Monts Dore and the Cantal, allows for the artisan production of different, flavor-filled cheeses. The savory collection of PDO cheeses includes Cantal, Saint Nectaire, Fourme d’Ambert, Bleu d’Auvergne and Salers. The cheeses range from a creamy Highlands cheese with nutty flavor to the powerful wild blue cheese with, of course, a strong aroma; and in between the Salers robust farmer’s cheese that combines spicy and floral flavors. The cheeses reflect the nature of the land.
Follow The Auvergne PDO Cheese Road and expect warm hospitality, easy access and parking and thorough information about the five unique cheeses. Your “tour” will include visits to production areas – yes, even cow milking – to learn about the history of cheese production and ripening. And perhaps best of all, you have the opportunity to taste and purchase the local products.
We have often enjoyed stopping by a cav for a wine tasting and purchase of regional wines but never imagined the same could be true for cheese. For example, Msr. and Mme. Pons of Monts Dore offer daily tours to explore cheese making, tasting and, naturally, purchasing. And you can hardly go wrong with traveling about the gorgeous volcanic landscape of the Auvergne region.
If you should venture to Le Mont Dore, there is one café you must try. The Café de Paris offers delightful fare, warm hospitality and a delicious Auvergne Truffaude specialty. We enjoyed dining inside the handsome dining room, but you also would enjoy the outdoor patio with sweeping views of the mountains.
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