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Monday 2 Apr 2018    The Cheese Guide

Cheese of the Month - Neufchâtel

A heart of cheese has won our heart this month!

There are champions of Neufchâtel who declare it the oldest Norman cheese - citing a document from 1035 which mentions the production of cheese in the region. It could be so! Perhaps Neufchâtel really has been crafted near the sleepy town of Neufchâtel-en-Bray for almost a thousand years - why not? After all, Pliny the Elder waxed lyrical about Cantal in around 78 AD.

More cautious cheese historians date the ‘official’ birth of Neufchâtel to 1543, when the specific name of this creamy cow’s cheese was first mentioned in the ledgers of the Saint-Aman Abbey in Rouen. By that time however, Neufchâtel was already being matured in the cellars of the region, cleverly ripening with the help of penicillium candidum - a bloomy white mold which also gives Camembert and Brie its typical soft rind. Nowadays producers might spray the cheeses with penicillium candidum to get the process started, but historically the “drying room” would have been the place where a natural rind was formed from the mold already in the air.

Neufchâtel may have only been written down in 1543, but its lovely heart-shape has its roots in the Hundred Years’ War (1337 -1453). Legend has it that when the English invaders occupied the region, the women of Neufchâtel-en-Bray were quite taken with the soldiers and began moulding cheeses into heart shapes to express their admiration. Well if cheese doesn't say 'love', we don't know what does. Neufchâtel is famous for its heart-shape, but you can in fact still find it as a cylinder or a brique - an oblong shape.  

In 1969, Neufchâtel received its AOC status, so that downy rind and mushroomy taste is now well protected. A handy bit of French vocabulary for describing the Neufchâtel rind is duveteux - downy - a word that perfectly captures that soft, velvety rind.

Inside, the pâte - the interior of the cheese - is slightly grainy in texture and quite firm, with a hint of saltiness. Enjoy it with crusty baguette and a robust red wine, or consider toasting your bread with the cheese on top for a Normandy classic. Delicieux!

A little note for all our American friends out there! Neufchâtel probably sounds very familiar to you, and of course the original French cheese inspired the American cream cheese you may know and love. The story goes that an American cheesemaker added cream to Neufchâtel and discovered the joys of cream cheese - but however it came about, the Neufchâtel you find on the supermarket shelves is very different from Normandy Neufchâtel. For one, AOC Neufchâtel is made with raw milk while American Neufchâtel is pasteurized. All this can only mean one thing - it must be time to come over and do a taste test! (Any excuse…)

Central Paris Location

Last Minute Course Places

14 Jun 2024

  • French Baking Classes / Le Croissant & Breakfast Pastries
  • The 'Roi' of the Parisian breakfast table, Le Croissant ! Enjoy three hours of mastering this decadent, flaky, buttery French icon.

  • La Cuisine Paris, 80 Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris     Time: 14:30 - 17:30
  • Price: €119.00     Availability: 1 place left

15 Jun 2024

  • Evening Classes / French Hors d'Oeuvres & Drinks!
  • Join us for this quintessential pre-dinner social experience as you create beautiful hors d’oeuvres and other small appetizers!

  • La Cuisine Paris, 80 Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris     Time: 15:00 - 18:00
  • Price: €129.00     Availability: 3 places left

17 Jun 2024

  • French Technical Classes / French Bistrot Lunches
  • Le Soufflé

    Au menu:

    a traditional savory Soufflé au Fromage (cheese soufflé)

    plateau of fromage (a selection of fine French cheeses)

    salade with a traditional French vinaigrette

    a delicate and sweet Soufflé au Chocolat (chocolate soufflé)

    After all that hard work (and fun), enjoy lunch with your classmates and a glass of wine while admiring wonderful views across the Seine to Notre Dame.

  • La Cuisine Paris, 80 Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris     Time: 10:30 - 13:00
  • Price: €119.00     Availability: 2 places left

18 Jun 2024

  • French Baking Classes / French Baguettes and ‘Boulangerie’ Class
  • Three hours of French Bread heaven in the heart of Paris. Learn the tips and tricks to bring the French 'boulangerie' to 'chez vous'!

  • La Cuisine Paris, 80 Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris     Time: 14:00 - 17:00
  • Price: €119.00     Availability: 1 place left

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