After my post on fromager Beillevaire (pronounce that BAY-vaire) I inquired if it was possible to visit the fromagerie. Perfect timing. There was a visite on Thursday and I was their guest to a tasting/degustation lunch.
I took the 7:23 TGV to Nantes in Loire-Atlantique and then a Transilian type local train to Machecoul et voila!
We did not don gowns and masks and do a walk-about, but could see into many areas while our excellent guide, Nathalie gave us a slide show and detailed explanations of all the processes involved. The tour is IN FRENCH but there was someone to translate important bits of information like "My husband does not want to be on the Internet etc." This is the yogurt area.
Here the fabulous beurre de barette is churned inside the rolling wooden barrel the old way on the left (please pronounce that Barr-rat-tay more or less...) Absolutely the best tasting butter you can find in France in my brief experience. I had to get up and eat several small piece of bread with baratte butter just to write about it = irresistible.
Those delicate striations you see on cheese are from turning it on metal racks (a bit like Champagne is turned regularly). There is no set number of times a day...it depends on the look and feel of the cheese I was told.
Nathalie explains the types of cheeses found throughout France. I must get a proper cheese book! Any suggestions are most welcome.
We had a mini tasting of four different lait cru (unpasteurized) cheeses from Beillevaire -Brun de Noix (with a walnut outer 'skin', a creamy chèvre 'Pont d'Yeu', Rocher Nantais,and a 'Secret de Couvent'.
Then off to lunch at the home of the parents of Pascal Beillevaire. My first cow sighting.
It's set in the marais or marches.
there were 15 of us so we ate family-style and good thing or I would have been "lost in translation". I sat next to Emanuelle, my own personal translator.
Our first plateau of cheeses were for 'Apero' time - no bread or butter is served with these. A Cantal, the Brun de Noix and the orange cheese is an aged Mimolette extra-vielle with hazelnuts and piped cream. Served with a Rose.
Second plateau was Somport Fermier, a 'Maki' de Chevre frais aux legumes croquants/crunchy vegetables, very unusual and tasty wrapped in seaweed, and a Rouleau de Beaulieu et olives confiturees(a Provencal olive jam to die for and a new product with Beillevaire hopefully coming out soon.
This is Emanuelle's plate who knows how to serve herself cheese beautifully. A pad of beurre a baratte is on the side in case you were wondering...
Oh la la.. Third plateau: Pitchounet, Fumaison et jambon de Vendee et Crème de Roquefort et figue cake (which will be available in December). The touch of Roquefort cream on top was the perfect contrast. Served with a red from Corbieres Domaine de La Roche Vive.
We got a little breather of fresh vegetables from the farm. I got up and went out to look at the marshes and get some oxygen. I was getting coma-'fro'maged.
Last course served with a different red - Cotes de Tongues Cepage Merlot, Grenache et Syrah. Saint-Felicien et viande de grison ( a special Swiss way of air-drying beef) and a Gruyere d'Alapage et pate de coing(a squiggle of quince cream on top).
You know I don't/can't drink much but I woke up immediately for the ris au lait au CARAMEL a toute a suite!
Sadly I could not stay to visit the cows/vacheresse post-dejeuner. I had to catch a train back to Nantes and then after a brief visit back to Paris.
But the same cow as above is embossed on the Beurre de Baratte lait cru from Beillevaire and I can not tell you how many times I have visited that cow while writing this post or their wonderful chevre Pont d'Yeu. A tres Grand Merci to Beillevaire for giving me an unforgettable experience/une experience inoubliable vraiment! The degustation dejeuners is worth the traveling. But there are 12-13 Beillevaire shops in Paris so do not miss out.