Monday, April 22, 2013

Pont L' Eveque Cheese

Pont L' Eveque cheese is a French AOC (Appellation d'Origine Controlee) cheese which must meet the following restrictions: (a) the milk must come from the area around the village of Pont l' Eveque, France (Calvados Department, northeast of Caen and south of LeHavre) ; (b) the curd must be divided, kneaded and drained; (c) the cheese must be washed, brushed and turned; (d) and it must meet one of several sizes (it comes in a square shape). It has been made since at least the 12th century, when it was called "d'Angelot," and it is probably the oldest Norman cheese still in production. Legend claims it was first made in a Cistercian abbey. A manuscript from that era states that a good meal should always end with some Angelot. In the 16th or 17th century it started to be called after the village where it was mainly produced. It is also known as Moyaux cheese. It is now one of the most popular cheeses in France along with Brie, Camembert and Roquefort. In France it comes from uncooked cow's milk, but when imported to the U.S. the milk must be pasteurized. The outside washed rind is white with some orange  coloration and cross-hatch impressions.
The center is soft and creamy and yellow in color with a mild barnyard aroma. It gets creamier with age. There are about six dairies that make it, but mine came with a Trader Joe's label and so I am unsure which dairy made it. describes the manufacturing process: Milk is warmed in a vat and cultures and rennet are added. It is allowed to coagulate. About an hour later, the curds are transferred to a table lined with linen. The curds are broken apart, releasing the whey which is allowed to drain. The solids are put into square-shaped molds. They are allowed to drain further before being placed on plastic mats laid across wire racks. After three days the cheese is salted which promotes draining and rind growth. They are aged until at least 15 days old and can't be released for sale until at least 20 days old. 
I have seen the taste described as "mild, milky and grassy" flavored; a "delicate bouquet...reminiscent of the Norman countryside"; "fruity, subtle, and refined"; and "a flavor of freshly cracked hazlenuts."  
I have learned to enjoy the barnyard smell that comes with washed rind cheese. It usually guards a beautifully mild tasting cheese within, kind of like the spines that protect a succulent cactus.  For those not familiar with washed rind cheese, it creates an expectation that it will be quite strong tasting and the mental aspect turns them away. I laughed as I read a well-written post on the cheese from a Proper Bostonian. After purchasing some Pont L'Eveque they "noticed a strange odor each time [they] added something to [their] shopping bag. It was the cheese...[They] wrapped it up as well as [they] could in a second plastic bag.." After getting home they spread the cheese on some bread and "took a bite. [They] surveyed the cheese, figured out, individually, that [they] could carefully remove it from the bread without too much damage, and did so. [They] contented [them]selves with some aged Gouda [they] had lying around. The French cheese was wrapped back up and put into the freezer for trash time." 

The center of the Point L' Eveque has a brie consistency. At room temperature I found the taste very mild. But it melts very easily and develops a much stronger taste that I enjoyed. I melted some on toast and put some egg cooked over-easy on top and it was fantastic. The stronger earthy taste complemented the egg which also came from the barnyard. Mmmm.  

1 comment:

  1. Definitely a keeper. I can't understand why anyone who likes a good brie wouldn't like this.