March 10, 2010

La Fête du Fromage - La Marotte

La Marotte

It's a term used in the wine world to describe the individual characteristics - the essence of the soil, the climate - which create the unique flavors of a specific wine region.
The Wine Doctor explains it much better than I can, "There is much discussion of terroir, a French term which has no simple translation into English. It refers to the external influences on the ripening grapes, including the soils (depth and type), bedrock, exposure to sun and wind, water table and so on."

After almost three years of tasting le fromage français, I can tell you that the term terroir applies to cheese as well.

Think of Normandy with its renowned, lush and creamy Camembert and Pont-l’Evêque. Then there's the Loire Valley, famous for its seemingly endless variety of elegant, finely textured fromages de chèvre such as Valençay and Sainte-Maure de Touraine. And don't forget the buttery, nutty cow's milk cheeses from the Alps such as Comté and Vacherin du Haut Doubs.

But if it's fromages de brebis you're after, then you must head to central France, to the causses du Larzac, where you'll find some of the most heavenly ewe's milk cheeses. From the earthy Galette du Larzac, to the delightful Brebis du Larzac, to the velvety Pérail du Larzac. And we can't forget the region's most famous cheese, Roquefort.

La Marotte

La Marotte is another wonderful cheese from the Larzac that I have added to my favorites list.
It is produced from unpasteurized ewe's milk by a small cooperative of 18 families, La Coopérative des Bergers du Larzac. This tomme style cheese has a dense, chewy and slightly grainy pâte that is wrapped in a natural, moldy rind that houses a happy colony of cheese mites. (You might want to avoid eating the rind)
The medium-strong, nutty flavor has an earthy, tangy finish that left me craving more.

A robust red wine would be a good pairing with la Marotte.

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Mme Paulita said...

sounds yummy

Sue said...

Well put! It makes perfect sense that cheese has its own terroir. Thanks for posting about the different cheeses available - I am looking forward to hunting some out!

Graham said...

A big benefit of La Marotte is that it is quite widely available (in the Herault at least) and keeps well because a whole one with protective rind only weighs about a kilo. We always used to fly home with one.

Ladyexpat (Nancie) said...

Cheese please! What I wouldn't do for a great piece of cheese. Believe me living in Korea is not a cheese lovers paradise.

spacedlaw said...

Terroir is important for cheese (and for meat) because of the food (the type and quantity) the animals graze upon.

Graham said...

The terroir point is interesting. For the cheese examples you give I would put the differences down to climate for the same reason that Loire wines are different to Languedoc wines, Savoie wines etc. Wine aficionados will talk about differences in terroir for the slopes of an individual hillside (soil, aspect, microclimate.....) - the Terrasses du Larzac is a local example. I'm not convinced that cheese production has the same granularity of nuances within a region.

Loulou said...

Mme Paulita
It was!

It does make sense and I'd never really thought of it before I started writing this post.
Hope you enjoy finding your cheeses!

Is home the UK? Wish I could bring cheeses back to the States with me without the worry...
This one would definitely travel well.

No, I can't imagine it would be. You could try making your own. :)

Yes, exactly. It makes perfect sense but I never really thought of it before now.

One wouldn't think that the cheeses of the Larzac have the subtle differences as the wines from the Minervois or Corbières, for instance, unless the sheep are grazing on completely different grasses and flowers, which perfume their milk.

tasteofbeirut said...

Un jour j'aimerais revenir vivre en France et passer mon temps à manger du pain, du fromage et à boire du bon vin!

Loulou said...

Yes, the life and food in France is wonderful. You must come and join us! :)
I'm going to make Ashtaliyeh from your recipe. Thank you for the inspiration!

Amber @ Native Food and Wine said...

Hi Lou Lou - A timely post for me, we just drove through the south of France and brought a wedge of tomme with us back to Tuscany. So delicious!

Loulou said...