This is a bit of a rare one. It’s an unpasteurised sheep’s milk cheese that is essentially a sheep’s milk Vacherin. It is from the Lozère region of southern France.
Lozère is famed for its cheese and even the Roman author and philosopher Pliny was most impressed with the cheese from this region:
The kinds of cheese that are most esteemed at Rome, where the various good things of all nations are to be judged of by comparison, are those that come from the provinces of Nemausus [Nîmes], and more especially the villages there of Lesura [Lozère] and Gabalis [Gévaudan]; but its excellence is only very short-lived, and it must be eaten while it is fresh.
Pliny also suggested that goat’s cheese, taken with Taminian grapes, was a fine antidote to snake poison. Wise words indeed.
The cheese is circled in a strip of, I think, spruce bark. This stops it from collapsing as it matures and also gives a slightly “resiny” taste. Its rind is washed regularly with salt water which helps to flavour the cheese as well as preserve it and it matures for at least three weeks. If you want the woody flavour to come through then it needs to be matured for longer.
The rind is pale and just starting to crack and it’s slightly tacky to the touch. See how fantastically runny the smooth, pale gold almost white paste is. This has a strong, pungent smell, almost with the classic “smelly feet” aroma with a slight hint of ammonia. This is the smell of the barnyard. But don’t let all of that put you off – you’ll be pleased to know that it’s one of those cheeses where the smell doesn’t quite match the flavour!
The paste is smooth, salty and almost bacony [see me make up words!] and is just marvellous on fresh bread. I’ve decided to have mine with a small glass of Morgon too. Mainly because that’s what’s open.