The marketing guys call it “the mildest of the blue cheeses” and they’ve put together a pretty absurd website displaying Chinese and Spanish poster girls alongside this very traditional cheese from very traditional Auvergne. I’d say, they’re guilty of a sort of cultural high treason because the cheese they have to promote doesn’t need bland slogans and sexy extras. It simply is a wonderful, powerful cheese, an AOC since 1972, and its proud name is
6000 tons or so are produced every year, not too bad, and I think it is fair to say that la fourme is one of the preferred high-class-cheeses in France. Fourme d’Ambert is made of cow’s cheese, it’s a classic pâte persillée, a smooth, firm and creamy thing, the rind greyish and wrinkled as it should be. And it’s fat – 50% minimum. And it is very, very good.
It’s one of the French cheeses easy to recognize. The entire piece makes a cylinder (weighing around 2 kg) of a diametre of 13 cm. So the tranches sold are circular, nice wheels marbled with blueish veins and showing ivory colours. It’s a cheese that has entered the supermarkets quite a while ago. Economically, this might help producers. In the long run, I’m afraid, there’s a certain danger of damaging this fine cheese’s image because supermarket people maybe good shop keepers but they lack the time and competent staff to really care for cheese.
Noble cheese, who wouldn’t agree?, should be handled by specialists, only they know how to deal with a such a powerful product. And Fourme d’Ambert is particularly powerful: there’s is no doubt that it was produced in the 8th century already, yet there’s also reason to believe that the Fourme d’Ambert was known before the Roman conquest already. If so, we’re talking about yet another cheese with a history of almost 2000 years. How to handle such a culinary heavyweight?
Well, maybe eating it regularly is the best way to show your respect. This cheese is made mainly in the department of Puy-de-Dôme. Ambert village sits between Clermont-Ferrand and St. Etienne right in the middle of France’s Auvergne region which is a national symbol for hearty, rustic pleasures. When you travel down there, you can’t avoid plenty of butcher shops displaying their salami-style saucissons at every corner.
What wine? Well, I would have it with a natural sweet white like a Jurançon. A rich red from Roussillon could be nice, too. You know, in the end, it’s all a matter of discussion, ideas and personal preferences. If you like to have your Fourme d’Ambert, say, with a pint of beer – so be it. It won’t kill this great cheese either…
Check the following video I’ve found on the web. It’s pretty lengthy, I agree, and video quality is just so-so. Yet it is quite complete concerning the Fourme d’Ambert and you’ll get good impressions of the region it comes from.