Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Apologies all, a technical problem resulted in this post getting deleted. I have now reinstated it.

Hi everyone. Apologies for the lack of posting recently, I’ve been pretty busy making cheese with some great producers. Internet access has been something of a sore point though and my brilliant plans of posting using my smart phone received a rather crushing blow recently (smartphones, as it turns out, don’t take well to heavy rain in the mountains).

I thought that as a taster of what’s been going on, I would share this photo of perhaps my favourite scene to date in the cheese world – the milking of the Salers cow.

There is no milking parlour, we’re out at high altitude in rich, rain-drenched pastures. The Salers cow provides tasty beef, but it was the the milk that this herd was churning out that we were after. It was exceptional and rich, with deep and complex grassy notes.

The beautiful cows of the Salers breed have a tendency to hold onto their milk unless their calf is present - which is why her calf is in frame, tied to her front leg for the milking (one udder is left for the calf afterwards, leaving plenty of milk to supplement their diet). The cows get all the nutrients that they need from the vast expanses of pasture but they do like a bit of salt, so the farmer places a handful on the back of the calf, which the cow will then lick off - an act which calms the calf.

This is a long winded process - the forty or so cows are free to roam in the milking enclosure and with the addition of an equivalent number of calfs and a bull, the milking could well be described as a kind of organised chaos.

The cheese is awesome, what you’re looking for is “Salers Tradition” the “Tradition” is important, it’s a controlled term that ensures that you are eating a cheese made up in the mountains according to the traditional practises. It’s rich, buttery and heavily scented, with grassy, herby notes battling a strong dose of farmyard and an incredibly satisfying bitterness that entices you to take another bite. This is a ‘real cheese’, as real as they get – made how you would want cheese to be made. But a proper description will have to wait for another post – it’s time to get back to the farm...

1 comment:

  1. I had been asked on the original post, where was I? does the term 'tradition' added on to a product always have the same meaning? and Will you be doing a book signing at WH Smith in Paris?

    My response was:

    Hi there! I was in a small Buron near Collandres in the department of Cantal, at the bottom of the Auvergne region on the Massif Central. It was absolutely beautiful.

    A good question – the meaning of “Tradition” as applied to the cheese Salers AOP is strictly controlled by the rules described in the documentation known as its cahier des charges which you can find on the INAO (Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité) web site. This is the body which works with the producers to create and enforce the rules. This link takes you to an overview of the rules for Salers and Salers Tradition (admittedly, in French with a fair bit of technical vocab).

    A good way to think of this use of the word, is as being like the very specific meaning of “free range” when applied to eggs.

    The use of the term “Tradition” for another product would not necessarily mean that similar conditions and practice had been followed