Friday, July 27, 2012

Rocamadour Goat’s Cheese, AOP and the Medieval city of Rocamadour.

from
Behind the French Menu
by
Bryan Newman
Updated July 2017


A farm made Rocamadour cheese.
The word fermier on the label means farm.
Photograph courtesy of Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 & GFDL

Rocamadour or Cabécou de Rocamadour AOC/AOP, the cheese, is a 45% fat goat’s milk cheese, made with non-pasteurized milk. The cheese has a light ivory color, and is aged for a minimum of 12 days and then it is creamy and mild. A young Rocamadour, with its nutty flavor may well be in your salad or part of another dish.  Older and mature Rocamadour AOP cheeses, with their stronger flavor, will be on the cheese board and the cognoscenti prefer the cheese when aged for a few months when it has a clear bite. 

If you are considering taking a Rocamadour cheese home, you will not be paying overweight; all Rocamadour AOP cheeses are small round cheeses weighing about 40 grams (1.40 ounces) each. For more information on buying French cheeses and taking them home click on this link to Buying Cheese in France and Taking it Home. (The cheese was originally known as the Cabécou de Rocamadour, but the Cabécou  is part of the name of other cheeses and today it is plain Rocamadour).

The medieval city of Rocamadour is in the department of Lot in the region of Occitanie.  The new super region of Occitanie was created from the old regions of Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc- Roussillon.   Then, on 1-1-2016,  France reduced its number of administrative regions from 22 to 13.
   

The Medieval City of Rocamadour.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/lejournaldemaman/7110887787/

Rocamadour AOC/AOP


Farm-made Rocamadour Cheeses.
Photograph courtesy of Lafromagerie.
  
In local fromageries, cheese shops, you may see two types of this cheese, a Rocamadour Artisanal, and a Rocamadour Fermier. The first is made in communal dairies; the second is made by the farmer on his or her farm where the goats are milked.  Local cheese shops will stock young cheeses, just two-weeks old, along with other cheeses that have been aged for up to one year. This cheese is available all over France; however, the assortment of aged cheeses will be more limited the further you are from Rocamadour.
  
Rocamadour on French menus:

Confit de Canard, Pommes Forestières et son Rocamadour (20 mn) Recooked duck served with woodsman potatoes and Rocamadour cheese. (20 minutes wait).  Pommes Forestières, woodsman’s potatoes, are made with cubes or slices of potatoes fried with a little goose fat, mushrooms, garlic, and parsley. (Confit has many meanings in French cuisine and duck confit is one of the tastiest).

Rocamadour Chaud sur Blinis et Lit de Jeunes Pousses – Warm Rocamadour on blinis on a bed of young salad leaves.  (Blinis are small pancakes of Russian origin traditionally made with buckwheat flour).

Salade Rocamadour. Mesclun, Tomates, Rocamadour Tiède, Poitrine de Porc , Miel, Pommes de Terre, Noix. – A mixed green salad, made with tomatoes, warm Rocamadour, braised pork belly with honey, potatoes and walnuts. This menu listing is for a Salade Rocomadour which has no agreed composition; another chef’s version may be completely different.

Tartines de Rocamadour, Lardons, Noix sur Lit de Salade Verte – Open sandwiches with Rocamadour cheese, fried bacon pieces, and walnuts on a bed of green salad leaves.

Souris d'Agneau Fondante, Ecrasé de Pomme de Terre au Rocamadour Lamb shank cooked until it is falling off the bone served with mashed potatoes made with Rocamadour cheese.
    

Rocamadour cheeses maturing.
        
While Rocamadour AOP is mainly produced in the department of Lot in Occitanie.  For historical reasons individual farms in the Occitanie departments of Tarn and Aveyron as well as in the departments of Lot et Garonne, Corrèze, and the Dordogne in the newly expanded region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine also make Rocamadour cheese. Take a map of the Route de Rocamadour, the Rocamadour road, from the Tourist Information office and spend an enjoyable day touring, and tasting Rocamadour and other local cheeses. Restaurants are carefully spread out along the route along with many farms offering other cheeses and wines.
   

The Route de Rocamadour.
    
Rocamadour was a medieval city though, in today’s terms, it is a village. Today, Rocamadour has some seven hundred permanent inhabitants.  French Medieval cities rarely had more than 3,000 citizens, with most under 1,000, Paris excluded. Since the 10th century, or possibly earlier, Rocamadour has been a place of pilgrimage for those who come to pray to Notre Dame de Rocamadour.




The Medieval City of Rocamadour.

The Rocamadour Fete de Fromage
 
Rocamadour, of course, has a cheese festival, their Fête des Fromages; it is held on Whit Sunday, that’s 48 days after Easter, and it celebrates French farm-made cheeses from the South of France and not just their own along with wines from the area. A farmers’ market is held at the same time  Following its position as a place of pilgrimage, the fete begins with a mass and blessing of the local sheep and goats.
 
See the French language website of the Rocamadour Fete de Fromage. The site is easily understood with the Google and Microsoft translate apps.

                   
The exact date of their Fete changes every year in coordination with Easter. Easter falls between the 22nd of March and the 25th April so you will need to check the dates on the web, or with the English language website of the Rocamadour Tourist Information Office. (Many French festivals have dates linked to Christian Holy days. Today all these festivals are secularized but their dates have not changed).


Rocamadour is an excellent place for those with gastronomic interests at any time of the year. The area is part of the ancient province of Quercy, and that means, you may enjoy, apart from many other kinds of cheese, excellent Quercy lamb, duck, melons and much more. Also, try the AOC Coteaux du Quercy wines along with the enjoyable and very inexpensive local Vin des Côtes du Lot IGP wines; these include whites, roses, and reds. Then just 62 km (39 miles) away is the town of Cahors with its excellent, and famous, red Cahors AOP wine.
    

The Statue of the Black Virgin.
Photograph by courtesy of Andrew Batram.
                                 
Whatever time of the year you visit Rocamadour there will be pilgrims from all over France and beyond.   Our Lady of Rocamadour, the Vierge Noire, the black virgin, has become even more popular for pilgrims since the reputed burial site of St Amadour was discovered in Rocamadour.  When visiting Rocamadour today's visitors, and pilgrims will be pleased to know that one of the old traditions has changed. You are no longer required to walk up the 216 steps to the shrine of the black virgin on your knees!  Today you can now walk up and down and no one will say a thing. Maybe next year there will be a cable car?

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Bryan G. Newman

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