The Art of Affinage is to take care of the cheeses by turning them, washing or brushing them as needed, and to know when to bring the cheese to the customer, i.e., when the cheese is ready to be eaten.
Tasting Notes for
Nine of Pascal Beillevaire's Cheeses:
Blanc Bleu du Rizet - Provenance: Auvergne Type: Raw goat’s milk
Medium round, called Bleu, because of the blue molds which can be found on the otherwise white molded (Blanc) slightly golden rind. The white pate is starting to run just under the rind but the cheese is perfect. Fresh flinty scent. Soft slightly grainy in mouth Tastes like Crème Fraîche. Stronger goat flavors closer to the rind. Doesn’t melt away quickly, it lingers. The rind adds complexity. I liked this cheese a lot. It reminded me of Cone de Port Aubry.
Pentu de l’Etang - Provenance: Loire Valley Type: Raw goat’s milk
Triangular/pyramidal in shape. Creamy white pate in center, turning denser, creamier and softer under the rind. The rind is thin and bloomy. Mushroomy clean with a very slight goaty scent. The pate tastes very salty and smooth. Rind adds an acidic bite.
Chambord - Provenance: Val de la Loire & Cher Centre Type: Raw goat’s milk
A flat rectangular cheese. Very soft blue-grey rind. Pate had a gold tint throughout and almost runs at room temperature. Warm goaty center. Very creamy pate melts away in the mouth. Rind adds a chewiness and slight bitterness, but is nice. I liked this cheese and would happily eat it again.
Brebis du Lavort - Provenance: Auvergne Type: Raw sheep’s milk
This is a relatively new cheese. It has only been made for about 10 years. Nose of clarified butter. Very powdery rind, cheese mite-y, (cheese mites eat the surface of the rind - this is considered good). Very gold pate which darkens under the rind. The deep flavor of pineapple and butter is prominent. A toothy pate but it melts away in the mouth leaving a bit of buttery-ness. Touching the pate leaves a film of butterfat on the fingers. This cheese was good with the Macon. I liked this one too.
Bourboule - Provenance: Auvergne Type: Raw cow’s milk
Dark brown rind with white/yellow molds. Creamy gold semi-semi pate. Rind-y warm animal notes. Small holes in the pate which is very smooth, but is chewy and meaty in the mouth. Hints of hazelnuts. An exclusive cheese to Beillevaire. Really Good.
Sauvageon - Provenance: Vendée Type: Pasteurized goat and cow’s milk
Herb covered rind – rosemary. White soft pate, turning slighty darker white gold under the very thin bloomy rind which is mixed with herbs. Bright and slightly sharp flavor. Good acidity. The flavor of the rosemary is prominent.
Grise des Volcans - Provenance: Auvergne Type: Raw cow’s milk
Aged 5-6 months. Thick and dusty rind. Cheese pate is very bright gold. Leaves traces of butterfat on fingers. Intense aroma of buttered popcorn and wildflowers. A cheddary element to this cheese. There is also a mild, slightly cellary element. Deep aroma. Some thought “fish sauce” about this cheese. The cheese tastes buttery and mild, with a slightly salty finish. Butter on the finish. I understood the “fish sauce” comment after it was suggested and it is a good analogy – but this is not a stinky cheese. The Aroma is pleasant. I liked this cheese a lot.
Vieux Lille - Provenance: Nord-Pas-de-Calais Type: Raw cow’s milk
Washed rind cheese (washed with brine). It is a square cheese which looks like a bit like a Taleggio, except that the rind is lighter in color. Thin rind, which is slightly reddish. A dense cheese. Scent of warm animal and slightly barnyard-y. Very salty flavor and a slightly grainy texture. The rind adds a fruitiness to the salt.
Bleu de Bocage - Provenance: Vendée Type: Pasteurized goat milk
This cheese is aged about 4 months. The animal is very present. Pate is a golden cream color, with strings of greenish tinted mold. The rind is reddish gold. The flavor is of salt and animal, with a cooked vegetable – like a creamed spinach. Very mild blue flavor and very smooth.
Wines: 2005 Domaine Renaud, Macon Charnay
floral and flinty nose. Ripe pear. Nice pleasant wine. Clean finish but yellow fruit lingers on.
2005 Domaine Confuron CoteidotBourgogne Passetoutgrain
Berries and alcohol on nose. Tobacco-y, light black fruit center. Fruity. Good acids.
Pascal Beillevaire's butter is so good it needs no bread; it is crunchy with salt crystals. We still dream of it. The laws against raw milk (lait cru) cheese and dairy products in the US don't allow for us to enjoy the butter or the two cheeses which Pascal makes himself, but many of the wonderful cheeses that he ages can be found here.
Notes from Pascal Beillevaire’s talk
Pascal Beillevaire is 47. He's from the North of France, near Brittany. Pascal learned about animals and milk from his parents on their dairy farm where he grew up. He is unusual in that he is an affineur who is also a cheesemaker. The cheese he makes is also unusual as it is made from warm milk. In other words, the milk is never heated to make the cheese, it made in the traditional way from milk which is still warm from the animal.
Pascal Beillevaire has four jobs:
1) He makes cheese. He makes two warm milk cheeses: Machecoulais and Mojette, neither are exported to the US.
2) He discovers unique and new cheeses. He currently offers (has collected) over 400 cheeses from 200 producers whom he works with.
3) He ages cheese. He has three aging facilities: One in Auvergne (St. Nectaire, Salers, Fourme D’Aubert), one in the Alpes (Comte, Beaufort) and one in Nantes (mostly goat cheese).
4) He sells cheese. He is a merchant who began by selling Crème Fraîche at the Farmer’s market. He then went to more markets with a “cheese truck”. Now he employs about 130 people and they offer cheese at 70 Farmer’s Markets each week. He also owns cheese stores (there are 9 in Paris). Fromagerie Beillevaire also sells directly to restaurants and offers cheese boards. They also export cheese.
Interesting notes: The the smaller the cheese the more likely it is to the point of production.
Pascal likes to serve Fromage Blanc with Rum & Raisins as a light dessertFor more on Pascal Beillevaire: Farmstead Cheese News on Pascal Beillevaire.
and also here.