(LEE-vah-roh)This small cheese from Normandy's Pays d'Auge has a clean-cut character and certainly qualifies for the top ten most pungent French Cheeses. Monks created it about 700 years ago.
Livarot is named after the market town in the area where the Calvados liquor is produced and where E. Graindorge dairy is located. Livarot can only be produced 12 miles around this town.
The nickname of "Colonel" refers to the fives strips of Carex* that traditionally encircles the cheese alluding to the five rings worn on the uniform of a French army colonel. Livarot used to be made exclusively in farms with the leftover milk, once the cream had been sold hence its other nickname "the poor man's meat".
It has a smooth and moist orange-brown rind which can become very dark and rustic looking. Although it has an assertive aroma it does not taste nearly as strong as it smells. The golden paste has little holes and is and springy. The taste is nutty with barnyard flavors and a salty lemon tang which bites the tongue. The texture is smooth, creamy and can get quite runny when ripe at room temperature. .
E. Graindorge Livarot is worthy of its lofty reputation: plump and slightly oozing, even well-wrapped it is apt to remind you that it is there!
Serving: This sophisticated cheese is excellent with crusty bread and fruits. It is also a nice addition to vegetable and fruit salads. For cooking try adding Livarot to soups and gratins.
Wine Pairing: Hard sparkling Cider, Calvados, Gewürztraminer
* The rushes of sedges wrapped around Livarot are no longer there to prevent the cheese from collapsing. When they were made for the farm laborers to take to the fields, these cheese which were 2 inches or more thick, tended to sink and lose their shape. To reinforce them the Normandy farmers used leaves of carex stripped from the rushes that grew in the marches. Gathered at the end of summer and dried for several months in a loft, they were bound around the cheeses as soon as the cheeses were taken from the molds.
Milk: partially skimmed (pasteurized in the US)
Specific Cow: Normande
Type: soft washed rind (edible)Pungency: Very strong
Optimum Maturation: 7 weeks
Maximum Maturation: 3 months
H: 2" D: from 3" to 8"
Weight: 0.5 lb. to 3.3 lbs.
Fat Content: 40%
Packaging: wooden box and paper