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Information about shopping for cheese and cheese shops in Calais, France – Day-tripper.net, the web magazine which saves you money when crossing the channel to Calais, to buy wine, beer, spirits and food, travelling by ferry or Eurotunnel.

cheese

Cheese Shops in Northern France

When telephoning from the United Kingdom begin all numbers with 0033 –

The variety and price of cheese in French shops and hypermarkets is considerably better than in the United Kingdom Expand your horizons by trying new cheeses – you will enjoy the experience!

There are surprisingly few specialist cheese shops in Calais and Boulogne. Most people it seems head for the supermarkets. However these shops are well worth a visit. We would recommend making the effort to visit them.

France Fromages – Essential web site. www.univers-fromages.com

Another list of French cheeses. www.fromages-de-terroirs.com

CREDIT CARDS – we suggest you ring your credit card company before shopping in France – increased fraud means they are turning down shoppers cards if their spending deviates from the norm. Take your mobile – you can often sort the problem out over the phone.

Cheese Facts

The ten most popular cheeses in France (figures from 2000 – tonnes); Emmental – 123,773, Camenbert – 64,372, Coulonmiers – 39,073, Chevre – 13,877, Saint-Paulin – 26,154, Comte – 23,213, Portions – 21,503, Brie – 18,616, Fromages Fraise nature – 18,473, Mimolette – 18377.

Largest producing regions; Normandy and Pays de la Loire.

Did you know? – that 84% of Fromage Frais is water? That there are four types of goats cheese which depend on the length of time they matured? – tendre (new), demi-sec (semi dry), sec (dry) and dur (hard).

Cheeses from Normandy

Pont l'Eveque. www.pont-leveque-aoc.org

Liverot. www.livarot-aoc.org

Camembert – Camembert factory tour – Camembert reo, Cessary. Tel: 0033 333 46 41 33. www.camembert-aoc.org

Cheese Shops in Calais

La Maison Fromage et des Vins – La Maison Fromage et des Vins, 1, rue André Gerschell. Tel: 0033 321 34 44 72. Closed Tuesday. www.restaurant-lechannel.com

Nathalie Pinheiro, 1, rue Montaigne. Tel: 0033 321 97 03 30.

Boulogne has a better selection of good cheese shops.

Roland Delannoy, 88, rue Colonne. Tel: 0033 321 31 95 48.

Philippe Olivier – Philippe Olivier, 43, rue Thiers, 62200 Boulogne-sur-Mer. Tel: 0033 321 31 94 74. Open: Tuesday – Saturday 8.00am – 12.30pm. 2. 30 – 7.30pm. Famous for its range, including over 30 local cheeses. www.philippeolivier.fr

Cheeses from Nord / Pas-de-Calais

Maroilles has been made since the 12th century – they make it in squares from local cows milk. It's soft and moist with a tangy flavour and quite a string smell. The Abbey of Maroilles near Avesnes used to collect its dues (tithes) from local peasants in cheese, which the monks then matured for at least 3 months in the abbey cellars. During this time each cheese is individually brushed with salt water so the orange rind and special flavour develops.

Today the monks' tradition is carried on by one local farm, the Ferme du Verger Pilote – which (for best flavour) uses only the unpasteurised milk from its own herd of 120 Friesian dairy cows.

Local variations of Maroilles

Elsewhere in Nord/Pas-de-Calais they make local variations of this famous cheese:

Le Vieux Lille or "Maroilles-gris" is soaked in local beer while it ripens. It ends up with a soft grey almost slimy appearance and an extremely strong smell. Sometimes called "Vieux Puant", "old stinker" – it's an acquired taste! We have found it bakes well with pasta, or as a topping.

La Boulette d'Avesnes is made from reject pieces of Maroilles, mixed with black pepper and tarragon, and rolled in hot red paprika to the shape of a cone – it's a strong firy taste.

Le Dauphin – a dolphin-shaped Maroilles with added herbs and spices. Originally created when Louis XIV and his son (The Dauphin) visited the region.

Sire de Crecuy – Made on one farm near Fruges in the "Sept Vallées" area, this is not an "appelation d'origine controlée", but highly rated as one of the great farm cheeses.

Mimollette. Mont de Cats. www.abbaye-montdescats.com

Other local Cheeses

Cremet du Cap Blanc Nez, a white creamy cheese.

Le Beval – from St. Pol sur Ternoise.

Le Coeur d'Arras – fine flavour (heart shaped).

Fromage Fort de Béthune – good with beer.

Rollot – from the area around Montreuil.

Le Vieux Boulogne – made from the milk of cows raised on salty coastal pastures. Smelly.

Cheese in France

There are the mass-produced products you buy in the hypermarkets – and then there are the small "artisanal" producers. They use local fresh ingredients and traditional techniques to produce something distinctive that helps preserve local crafts, and the culture and heritage of how the area used to eat.

There are 22 named French cheeses entitled to use an officially run quality control system known as "appellation d'origine controlée" producing about 500 cheeses from cow, goat and ewe's milk.

Maroilles

Thick, soft squares of moist cow's-milk cheese with a vigorous tangy flavour and strong bouquet.

Camembert

Invented in 1790 by a local farm woman Marie Harel near the village of Camembert, this is a soft cheese with a rind and is France's most famous cheese. Made in an area around Neufchâtel-en-Bray, less than an hour from Dieppe. Other cheeses from this region; Brillat-Savarin, Neufchâtel, Petit Suisse.

Livarot

Also known as 'Le Colonel', Livarot is one of the great rind-washed cheeses of France, with a characteristic reddish-brown crust, a pungent odour and deep, but not overly strong flavour (Normandy).

Pont l'Eveque

This cheese has been in existence since the 13th century. A soft cheese with a washed rind, strong odour and a clean and pleasant taste (Normandy).

Brie

One of the oldest cheeses from the Ile-de-France, Brie is a soft, creamy cheese with a white rind and a full, nutty flavour.

Munster

This cheese from Alsace has a creamy consistency and is made from cow's milk with a pronounced flavour.

St Paulin

This mild, smooth cheese with its orange rind is made throughout the NorthWest, and is particularly popular in Brittany and the Loire.

Port Salut

Now made throughout North-West France, this pressed cheese has its origins amongst the trappist monks at Abbeye d'Entrannes in Mayennes. Creamy, mild and characterised by its bright orange rind.

Coulommiers

About half the size of a Brie de Meaux, this cheese is bloomy, made from cow's milk and tastes faintly of almonds. There is a "brie market" every Sunday in the center of town.

Emmental

Based on the classic Swiss cheese with its large holes, this cooked, pressed cheese should not be rubbery to the touch but have a slightly grainy texture and a fine nutty flavour.

Chabicou

Outstanding farm-produced goat's milk cheese, usually pyramid or cone shaped, aged for a month or so, when it develops its characteristic, pungent goat aroma.

Beaufort

A delicious Gruyère-type cheese, made from hard-pressed curds of cow's milk, produced in huge rounds and aged for more than a year, during which time the sides of the cheese become concave.

Cantal

Classic, huge wheel of mountain cheese from Central France, traditionally made in mountain huts from unpasteurized milk, virtually straight from the cow, curdled (not cooked) and aged for over a year.

Reblochon

Mild and creamy in flavour and can be bought in flat discs weighing 340g.

Bleu de Bresse

A famous blue from the Montelimar region, made from goat's milk.

Saint-Marcellin

This small flat disc of cow's-milk cheese (once made of goat's milk) is made in Isere outside Lyon. Best eaten well aged and runny.

Bleu d'Auvergne

A blue cheese, slightly piquant with a fresh flavour made in the shape of a flat cylinder.

Tomme de Savoie

From the slopes of the Alps and the Jura mountains comes this white cheese with a pure, slightly salty taste.

Banon

This goat's-milk (or mixed goat's and cow's milk) cheese comes from the Banon region and is sometimes wrapped in fresh green or dried brown chestnut leaves and tied with raffia.

Fromage des Pyrenees

There are two cheeses from the Pyrenees. Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC) is a cylinder with a light rind made from ewe's milk. lt has a tang of the soil. The other cheese has a natural black rind covered with plastic or wax. Made from cow's milk, this cheese has a more subtle flavour.

Roquefort

Roquefort: 'The King of Cheeses', is one of the worlds most famous blue cheeses. It is made exclusively from ewe's milk and is smooth, firm and creamy with a mild piquant flavour.

The Seven Families of French Cheese

– Chèvre – made from goat's milk, these are smooth and tangy. "Chévres frais" is from fresh young goat's milk, matured for 3 or 4 days. As they matur they become harder, developing into "Chévres secs" with deeper, stronger flavours. Couturier, Chèvretine, Chèvre de Bellay, Soignon. Valbreso Feta is made in this style, but with sheep's milk.

– Soft-Ripened – Best known for Brie and Camembert and their distinctive, snow-white rind. Claudel, Fleurs de France, Joan of Arc, Louis XIV, Marquis de Lafayette, Martin Collet.

– Semi-Hard – These cheeses, with a mild, even nutty flavour, hide a firm, supple texture under their crust. SAFR Port Salut.

– Hard – Made in the mountainous regions of France such as the Alps and Jura, these cheeses are very large, with a golden exterior and a pale yellow interior. Grosjean Emmental, Président Emmental, Madrigal.

– Blue veined – Distinctive blue-veined cheeses are produced in the mountain regions of France and often aged in caves. Consistency of blue-veined cheeses is allowed to vary from moist and crumbly to dry and creamy. Société Roquefort.

– Fresh Cheese – Neither cooked nor cured, these come seasoned, spiced or laced with fruit.

– Processed Cheese – A blend of various cheeses, they are mild, meltable and come in a variety of flavors and textures.

The AOC label (Appellation Control System) and other French quality labels

Serving Cheese: Do's and Don'st's

Do

– Remove cheese from the fridge at least an hour before serving to allow it to come to room temperature.

– Vary the types of cheeses on your cheese tray. A good selection will include 3-5 examples from the 7 cheese types.

– Re-wrap each cheese separately and tightly, ideally in the packaging in which you bought it, which is designed to keep it fresh.

Don'st

– Worry about eating the rind – it's perfectly safe to consume.

– Freeze cheeses – it kills the molds that have been carefully cultivated to ripen the flavour of the cheese.

There's a lot less fat in cheese than people think. When a label says "60% fat," what it really means is that 60% of the dry matter (the non-liquid part of the cheese) is fat – not 60% of the entire cheese.

Made from milk, a liquid, the dry matter may represent less than half of the content of the cheese.

Useful Outside links

– Check out the latest catalogue / leaflet offers (PDF). www.bonial.fr

Cheese.com, a useful site. www.cheese.com

Fromages.com, a useful site. www.fromages.com

French Cheese – French Cheese. www.frencheese.co.uk

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