St Nectaire is one of those french delights which sounds very familiar, but it was a surprise to find that it comes from the Massif Central – indeed from the village of St Nectaire (63 Puy-de-Dome, (Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes) south of Clermont-Ferrand.
The French are proud of their local produce and celebrate with festivals and competitions – and even “knighthoods” to protect and promote the products. In truth these are predominantly modern creations probably designed as a marketing ploy, but nevertheless they impart a certain ceremony and pomposity – and make for good entertainment. And besides, why not promote something which is special and unique to an area – and shout its virtues.
St Nectaire celebrates with a festival on 8 – 10 June 2019 when the village hosts numerous events including a gastronomic market and a competition for the best cheese – Grande fête du Saint-Nectaire (See www.sancy.com)
St Nectaire certainly falls into the “smelly cheese” category – a softish textured round unpasteurised cow’s mike cheese from Salers cows, which is matured for 6-8 weeks to develop its distinctive smell and complexity of taste – and it acquires a bloomy rind displaying white, yellow and red mould. The best are “fermier” – i.e. made in a proper dairy on the farm, although it is also produced on a more industrial scale for the supermarkets.
Cheesemaker Paul Dischamp has a good website showing the production process at www.saintnectaire.com/
For a really useful and comprehensive guide to French Cheese see the DK Eyewitness Guide to French Cheeses
Stay in a charming small hotel at the Hotel Regina in Saint Nectaire – outdoor swimming pool, free wifi and à la carte restaurant!