Here I introduce you to one of my favorite cheeses. Its heart shape is special and is perfect for a nice cheese evening on Valentine's Day, for example. Of course, its taste is also special: the white, fluffy bark hides a soft, smooth consistency. The young cheese is mild, the riper one is characterized by a very strong, characteristic taste.
Neufchâtel is a soft cheese from Normandy that is made exclusively from raw cow's milk. The cheese is sold in different shapes and sizes, including the popular heart shape. It has been an AOC cheese (Appellation d'origine contrôlée) since 1969 and since 1996, Neufchâtel has also enjoyed EU-wide protection as an AOP cheese (Appellation d'origine protégée; protected designation of origin).
It is considered one of the oldest cheeses in Normandy, first mentioned in writing in 1035. However, it took until 1544 for it to become known under this name. Since Normandy was often a theater of war between the English and French in the Middle Ages, the English soldiers got to know and appreciate it. According to legend, during the Hundred Years' War, young girls offered the heart-shaped cheese to English soldiers as a token of love.
Be that as it may, Neufchâtel and its heart have passed through the centuries, and just as its appearance is determined by its shape, its diversity can also affect the taste of the cheese by altering the coagulation process.
The milk is thickened immediately after milking and produces a cheese curd, which is drained in a linen cloth for around twelve hours. It is then pressed and inoculated, that is, mixed with pieces of fresh Neufchâtel covered with mold. It is kneaded by hand until a uniform dough is formed. It is then poured into its mold, salted and placed in the ripening room for at least ten days, but can also remain there for up to several months.
Tip from the cheese master
You always cut the Neufchâtel so that a piece of bark remains on each slice.
A fruity red wine, for example Beaujolais or Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, or a well-chilled cider is suitable as an accompaniment.
Since you will have a Coeur de Neufchâtel in February's Augustas Box, you can look forward to Sébastien's wine selection and enjoy the Chardonnay Vignes de l'arques or the Cheverny Rouge with it.