Pont-l'Évêque is a small village situated not far away from Deauville in Normandy but also the name of A famous French cheese. Made in the 12th century with a gentle orange washed rind, Pont-l'Évêque, together with Camembert, is considered the most popular cheese in France. This creamy square-shaped cheese from Normandy is made with raw or pasteurized cow’s milk. Classified and protected by the French law, Pont-l'Évêque is also used in many traditional Norman recipes.
Pont-l'Évêque is probably the oldest cheese in Normandy. According to the story, in the 12th century, the Cistercian monks made cheese with a raw cow's milk. This soft and creamy cheese was firstly named “cherub” and later “augelot”. Only in the 16th century, it will take the name of a little Normand village where it was made – Pont-l'Évêque. Even if Pont-l'Évêque was very popular all over this northwestern region, it was in the mid-18th century, after the inauguration of a railway line between Normandy and Paris, that this cheese finally arrived in the French capital. Apparently, Parisians immediately fell in love with this creamy cheese, which was sold in the markets as a luxury food. Since 1976, Pont-l'Évêque received the appellation d’origine controlée (AOC), a prestigious French label granted to certain French geographical indications for cheese but also other agricultural products such as wine, meat, butter, and honey.
Cheese can be labeled Pont-l'Évêque only if it is made exclusively with the cow’s milk from an area around the village of Pont-l'Évêque. It is authorized to use either raw or pasteurized milk that comes from Norman cows. Those cows graze for at least six months in the year. Also, this cheese has to be square-shaped and needs to measure from 105 mm to 210 mm. The cheese maturation (“affinage”) lasts from four to six weeks. You can consume this cheese all year round, but the ideal period is from May to September.
If you would like to discover how Pont-l'Évêque is made, then you should definitely visit Graindorge, one of the most interesting Norman cheese factories. Founded in 1910 and situated in Livarot in the heart of Normandy, since 2004 this cheese factory offers a unique opportunity to all cheese lovers to discover Pont-l'Évêque and other Norman cheeses. This is a perfect place to see how the most delicious cheese is manufactured step by step, and the visit ends with a cheese tasting. This factory also has a very nice shop where you can get some fine Norman cheeses, as well as all sorts of other regional products.
Cover Photo © Credit to iStockphoto/PaulCowan
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