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Cheese, cheese, glorious cheese

France is well known for its cheeses – there are over 246 different cheeses in France and every region has its specialities. The Savoie is no exception and boasts some wonderful cheeses which we serve in the chalets.

My favourite has to be Beaufort which is made high up in the mountains all along the Beaufort, Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys. The cheese is made with milk from the Tarine and Abondance cows who graze the summer pastures. This is hard textured cheese with a sharp, slightly nutty flavour. It takes 11 litres of milk to make 1 kg of cheese and it is aged for between 6 & 12 months. Beaufort cheese has had AOC designation since 1968 and producers make both a summer & winter version of the cheese.

Reblochon is another local speciality which is a softer cheese made from raw cow’s milk. It is used in making Tartiflette, a delcious and very filling local dish of potatoes, onions, bacon and cheese. Reblochon has been made in Savoie since 13th century and was one of the first in France to receive AOC status in 1958.

Abondance cheese was originally made in the village of Abondance in the north of the Haute Savoie although there are now around 60 local producers. It has a soft creamy texture and a delicate hazelnut flavour.

Finally a local cheese not to be missed is Tomme de Savoie which is a mild semi-firm cheese made from skimmed milk which was left after butter production. To guarantee Savioe origin, the word ‘Savoie’ is  stamped onto the rind. As with Beaufort cheese, the flavour of the Tomme will vary slightly according to whether this is produced from winter hay fed cows or those on summer grazing.

The French take their cheeses very seriously and it is best bought in specialist shops or direct from the producers to ensure that you get the best quality. Interestingly the British tend to serve cheese at the end of the meal but the French prefer to have their cheese course before the dessert believing that it is best to leave the sweet flavours until the end of the meal.

We take the diplomatic stance and  will serve it whenever you prefer !