Livarot has a full and assertive
flavour, a supple texture and a pungent aroma.
Livarot is one of the great Normandy cheeses
and one of the oldest. It is thought to have monastic origins, having
a typical washed rind and pungent aroma, with its making being taught
by the monks to the local farmers many years ago. It is similar to other
cheeses of Normandy such as Pont l'Evêque and Pavé d'Auge and used to
be known as the 'meat of the poor'.
The distinguishing feature of Livarot is
its bindings of sedge leaves. Strips of this marsh grass are wrapped around
each cheese, originally to prevent the weaker cheeses from collapsing.
The resemblance of these strips with the stripes of the military rank
has led to the cheese being nicknamed the 'Colonel'.
Each cheese is made with a mixture of
skimmed evening and whole morning milk (unpasteurised cows' milk) giving
a fat content of 40-45% (as opposed to 48% for whole fat milk). The curds
and whey are scooped into round moulds and the whey is allowed to drain
off. The cheeses are then turned and washed with brine which has been
coloured with annatto. Maturing takes place in warm, humid cellars for
up to two months. Livarot has a full and assertive flavour, a supple texture
and a pungent aroma. The rind is brown-orange due to the annatto washings.
Livarots are made in three different sizes
as specified in its AOC (granted in 1975): Trois-quarts (three quarter
size) at 10.6cm diameter; Petit-Livarot (small) at 9cm diameter and the
Quart-Livarot at 7cm diameter. Almost all of the Livarot produced today
is made in large creameries using pasteurised milk and yield blander cheeses.
At The Teddington Cheese we sell the original unpasteurised farm-made
250 gramme Petit-Livarot with its original and lively character.
Livarot is 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.