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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Livarot AOC/AOP – Livarot Cheese. Livarot is One of France’s Tastiest "Aromatic" Cheeses. Livarot in French French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

A Livarot cheese.
Livarot is one of the four AOP Normandy, cheeses.  The other three are Camembert de Normandie AOP, Pont l'Evêque AOP, and Neufchâtel AOP. As expected with so much butter and cream coming from Normandy they are all cow’s milk cheeses.

Livarot AOP is a strong, soft, 40% fat, semi-soft cow’s milk cheese made with unpasteurized milk. The cheese must be aged for at least 90 days before being sold. The producers age the cheese in warm, humid cellars and wash the rind with brine. Despite that, good fromageries, French cheese shops, will not sell a Livarot before it is five or six months old.
Livarot cheeses aging.

When ripe the pate is a soft, light, creamy, ivory to yellow color, nearly runny, almost spreadable, with little holes. The cheese will melt in your mouth with a slightly sharp nutty taste. The rind has a light reddish sandy color which comes from the seeds of the achiote tree. The cheese is famous for being one of France most pungent, but like other smelly cheeses and its neighbor Pont l'Evêque, its taste is much milder than its smell. 

All four Normandy AOP cheeses.

In a shop, the cheese, when not boxed, is easily identified as it bound with five strips of straw.  These bands give the cheese its nickname the colonel, from stripes on army uniforms.  The bands are not in fact straw they are from an aquatic plant called sedge. Why this plant was used to supply the bands no one seems to know. The usual answer is the bands keep the cheese’s shape while maturing; but that problem is solved in many simpler ways in tens of other cheeses. The bands themselves are edible when fresh, but you will not want to eat the dried ones on the cheese.

Livarot on French menus:

Entrecôte et sa Sauce Livarot, Frites Maison – An entrecote steak prepared with a Livarot sauce and served with the restaurant’s own take on French fries, chips. The traditional and tastiest French fries were always cooked in beef fat, and this may be the restaurant version.  Ask.

Le Gratin de Boudin Noir au Livarot -  A black pudding, a pig’s blood sausage covered with Livarot and browned under the grill.

Médaillon de Veau au Livarot – A medallion, around or oval cut of veal baked with Livarot.

Paupiette de Pintadeaux Dorés au Livarot -   A paupiette of golden young Guinea fowl breast rolled around a Livarot cheese stuffing.  (A paupiette is a thin, rolled slice of meat or fish).

Tarte Fine aux Poires et Livarot – A pear tart served covered with grilled Livarot cheese. A tart fine is a disk of puff pastry and used as a base.

Remember, this is a cheese from Normandy. When you are dining in the region consider accompanying the cheese with Calvados, their excellent apple brandy, or at least a Normandy cider.

You may choose your cheese to take home by size. However, remember this is a smelly cheese so make sure yours is vacuum wrapped. All good fromageries offer this service. When you get it home, keep the cheese wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. When you take the cheese out to serve let it reach room temperature, about one hour, before serving.  N.B. Like other cheeses, Livarot will not ripen after you refrigerate it so in the fromagerie where you buy it ask for one that will be ready in one week or ten days. French cheese shops know that they must supply their customers with cheeses for a particular date. If a customer doesn’t care too much about a when a cheese will be ready they will go to a supermarket.  A young Livarot is still tasty, but you miss a great deal when it is not ripe. For more on buying cheese in France and taking it home click here.

Buy your cheese in a Fromagerie.

Livarot comes in 4 sizes:

Petit Livarot  -  A disk approximately 85mm (3.5”) in diameter and weighing up to 270 grams (9 oz).

¾ Trois-quart Livarot  -  A disk approximately 112mm  (4.4”)  in diameter weighing close to 350 grams (12 oz.).

4/4 Livarot - A disk approximately 125mm (5”) in diameter and weighing up to 500 grams ( 1.1lbs).
Grand Livarot  -  A  disk approximately 200mm  (8”) in diameter and weighing close to 1.5 kilos (3.3lbs).

Livarot was an ancient province in Normandy, and it has remained with its own identity within the department of Calvados.  There is a Livarot French-language website that is easily understood using the Google and Bing translation apps.

Downtown Livarot.

The small town of Livarot, with a population of under 3,000 has a cheese fair on the first Saturday and Sunday in August.  The Livarot Tourist Information Office has an English language website where you may check the dates:

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Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.

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