The only cheese-makers in Ambert make mildest blue cheese in France

The creamy blue ‘Fourme d’Ambert’ is lovingly made by these third generation dairy farmers

Gwenäelle and Julien Rodary; Fourme d’Ambert is often sold in circular slices
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Gwenäelle and Julien Rodary produce cheese at the Fromagerie l’Ambertoise near Ambert in Auvergne (63).

“Our dairy farm has been in the family for three generations,” says Gwenäelle. “But in the past we only produced milk. It was only when we realised that no-one in Ambert was actually making ‘Fourme d’Ambert’ that we decided to start making cheese.”

Read more: ‘My gripe about French milk was replaced by awe at dairy statistics’

Cows spend at least 150 days a year out to pasture

Fourme d’Ambert is the mildest of all the blue cheeses, with a rich creamy flavour. In supermarkets it is sold in circular slices.

The blue colouring is achieved by mixing the milk with ‘Penicillium roqueforti’, a fungus derived from rye.

The cheese is always made from whole cows’ milk, from herds which spend at least 150 days a year pastured outdoors.

Read more: Why some French cheese may begin to taste a bit different

Mores cheeses and a farm shop

Having started the ‘fromagerie’ the couple quickly added other cheeses to their products; St Nectaire Fermier AOP, Le Petit Marcel (a small fresh cheese), Tomme des Neiges, Tomme Fourme, plus various flavours of fromage frais including garlic and red pepper, pepper, and garlic and herbs. Now they also make yoghurt.

“We have a boutique at the farm which is open six days a week all year long.

“We sell our cheeses and yoghurts as well as locally-produced honey, beer, charcuterie, jams, syrups, and locally grown-fruit and vegetables.

Beware supermarket imitations

“We are only 2km outside Ambert, so we have a lot of regular local customers. We also get a lot of tourists in the summer and the school holidays when people come to their second homes.”

They do not sell online. They supply to local school canteens and hospitals, plus restaurants all across France.

“It’s a selling point that we are the only cheese-makers in Ambert, and one of only nine farms who make ‘Fourme d’Ambert fermière’ in the country. What you find in supermarkets is ‘Fourme d’Ambert laitière’ which isn’t the same.”

It takes five days to make a Fourme d’Ambert, rolling, adding salt, and pricking the cheese to allow oxygen to react with the ‘Penicillium roqueforti. It is then matured for 45 days.

“Obviously we have to taste it to check the flavour!”

Customers can either buy a whole cheese (approximately 2.2kg) or just buy a slice.

“My favourite way to eat it is with the jams specially made for accompanying cheese.” Flavours include fig, white wine, and mango.

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