Normandy is rightly famous for its cheeses – indeed think of Normandy and I immediately think of apples, cows and lush green fields, thatched cottages and cream – cider and Calvados (apple brandy), Camembert, Pont l’Eveque and wonderfully creamy butter.
Livarot is another of the great cows milk cheeses to come from the region, nicknamed the Colonel due to the straps of rush which hold it together and which look like military stripes.
It does of course belong to the family of seriously smelly French cheese, and has a strong distinctive taste and when properly ripe has a glutinous texture – yet it dissolves in the mouth.
Livarot (14 Calvados, Normandie) holds its annual cheese festival (Foire aux Fromages) in August 3 – 4 August 2019(see www.agendafromage.com)
This is definitely the type of cheese to be purchased from a proper cheesemonger rather than most local supermarkets. Online you can buy from the Teddington Cheese Company who describe the cheese as:“a full and assertive flavour, a supple texture and a pungent aroma…. excellent on the cheese board although it is best tasted after milder cheeses. It is best enjoyed with a full-bodied red wine, a glass of Normandy cider or even a nip of Calvados.”
In the 19th century, livarot was the most widely consumed cheese in Normandy.It was even referred to as the “labourer’s meat” thanks to its great nutritional value.Livarot cheese is, to this very day, produced in its home town, at the Graindorge dairy in Livarot. A cheese fair is organised every year in August.It was awarded an AOC controlled designation of origin in 1975, then an AOP protected designation of origin in 1996. They are both official European quality labels. Livarot is placed under legal protection in all European Union member states.Livarot is a soft washed rind cheese made from cow’s milk, and is reddish in colour.
It is wrapped with 3 to 5 rings, referred to in French as “laîches“. Strips of willow wood were formerly used to help hold the cheese together. Today, they are more aesthetic and are made of reed or paper. Livarot is also referred to as Colonel, for its surrounding rings are reminiscent of a Colonel’s golden stripes.This soft cheese contains at least 40% fat. 5 litres of milk are required to produce a livarot cheese which is matured for 60 days in a cellar.