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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourme d'Ambert AOP - One of the Auvergne's Very Special cheeses.

                                                The Fourme d’Ambert AOP (AOC).
Behind the French Menu.

Ambert Ambert; the town and the Fourme d’Ambert, AOC. The town of Ambert is in the département of Puy de Dôme in the région of the Auvergne and home to that mild and tasty and very special blue cheese, the Fourme d’Ambert, AOC.
 The Fourme d’Ambert is a 50% fat, cow’s milk cheese, with a blue mold that despite being a blue veined cheese is smooth and relatively mild. The Fourme d’Ambert is matured for four to eight weeks before being sold; even when matured for the full eight weeks this cheese is still far milder than most other blue cheeses. Unusual among France’s top cheeses,  the Fourme d’Ambert  is now only made from pasteurized milk.

Photograph by Courtesy of Ludovic Combe / SIFAm).

One and a half Forme d’Ambert cheeses.    
If you are near the town of Ambert, then stop by and visit the town’s Maison de la Fourme d’Ambert et de Fromages d’Auvergne AOC, the House of the Fourme d’Ambert and the other four Auvergne AOC cheeses.  Here, for a small charge you may taste all five of the Auvergne's AOC cheeses. The Fourme d’Ambert AOC, the Bleu d'Auvergne AOC; St Nectaire AOC; Cantal AOC and Salers AOC.  Your entrance fee does include a glass of wine, and as you may be expect that will be a Côte d'Auvergne.  Despite their local emphasis on the most famous of the Auvergne’s cheeses the région produces many many other excellent cheeses that do not have that AOC label.  For those many other cheeses check a local restaurant’s cheese trolley as well as a local fromagerie, a cheese shop.  

Photograph by courtesy of Yasuo Kida 木田泰夫 )
A cut from the Fourme d’ Ambert Cheese
     Once every two years the town of Ambert also hosts a celebration called the Fourmofolies; it is held during the weekend that includes the National,  and today non-religious, Holiday of Pentecost.  The Fourmofolies celebrates all the wonderful produce of the Auvergne.  For the dates of Pentecost ask at the French GovernmentTourist Office and see my post on French holidays, Fêtes. You need to know the French holidays when planning your trip. You may join in the Celebrations, Carnivals and More,


Photograph by courtesy of Jerome Decq.
The Old Town of Ambert.

 Linked forever to Ambert and its cheese is a town called Montbrison in the département of Loire in the région of the Rhône-Alpes; as the crow flies Montbrison is just 30 kms away from Ambert, about 40 km by road.  In Montbrison they make a very very similar cheese to the Fourme d’Ambert AOC; however there it is called the Fourme de Montbrison, AOC.  When you taste both cheeses  the Fourme d’Ambert  and  the Fourme de Montbrison, AOC please remember that I did say they are very very similar cheeses.  It is a long story, too long for this blog, but one cheese ended up with two names and each owns the rights to its own AOC label. 

 The word fourme which is part of the name of both these cheeses and many other French cheeses has nothing to do with the type of cheese. The word fourme refers to the form or mold, the container, into which the cheese is poured. For this one, excuse me, these two cheeses, the form was traditionally a cylindrical shaped wooden mold.
The farmers and dairies that produce this cheese claim that it was first made over 1,000 years ago.  Even if their dates are off by a couple of hundred years this is still a great tasting cheese with two names and lots of history. If you are visiting the area remember that from the same département of Puy de Dôme that produces the Fourme d’Ambert  also produces the Lentilles Vertes du Puy AOC, the green lentils of Puy; the first dried vegetable to receive an AOC/AOP.

Connected posts:

What are the initials AOC and AOP on France's Foods and Wine labels? Why is the AOC becoming an AOP?