The French blue was the defending mid-fielder of this month's selection from The Cheeseboard, playing a supporting role to the twin strikers of the Cardo (aromatic, slightly sweet) and the Mahon (which reminded me a little, taste-wise, of Gorwydd caerphilly). Robbyn was rather unexcited by my choosing the fourmme d'ambert; but while I did so primarily for reasons of cost (keeping the selection well under our £7.50 limit) I also like it. It's not that challenging or complex, but it's a decent hunk of cheese nonetheless - and this one from the Cheeseboard is unpastuerised.
The three pieces pictured above cost me £6.32. Here are Robbyn's notes:
Cardo is handmade by Mary Holbrook on Sleight Farm in Somerset. It is a semi-soft washed-rind goat’s milk cheese that is washed in water (rather than brine) while it matures. She uses a vegetarian rennet made from cardoon stamens (from which it gets its name) which is related to the artichoke and is commonly used in Portuguese cheese-making. The rind adds savouriness to the delicate floral flavours of the pâte. This cheese is unusual in that it is truly a seasonal cheese, produced only between March and October, the natural kidding cycle for goats.
Mahon is named after the capital of Menorca where it is made. The Tramuntana wind (known as the Tramontane in France) is the north wind that blows sea salt over the pastures that the cows eat from and lends a particularly salty characteristic to this cheese.
During the cheese-making process, the curds are wrapped in a cloth square and the corners are tautly tied, which gives the cheese its signature shape of a fat cushion. It is then washed in brine and rubbed with olive oil and paprika. This gives it its beautiful colour and also contributes to its tangy, intense flavours.
It is matured by Nicolas Cardona, one of only two Afinadores on the island of Menorca. He follows in the footsteps of his father and grandfather; his role is to select the cheeses and mature them - including brining and turning them by hand until they are perfect.
Perfect for those who do not like blue, fourme d'ambert has converted many people who have never appreciated blue cheese. It is well-balanced: sharp and mellow at the same time, not salty, with a big perfume of fruit and wood.
One of France's oldest cheeses, it received AOC status in 2002. It takes its name from the mould that is traditionally used to give it it’s cylindrical shape. Produced in the Monts de Forez of the Auvergne, this is milder than a Roquefort, without the peppery-ness of that cheese.