Roquefort cheese is amazing to me. The blue veins, the perfect blend of creamy and salty. Ummm. I have eaten it since I was a toddler – by which i mean that our french family friend gave me some when I was a toddler and i enjoyed it, much to his amusement. It was not a staple of my toddler diet.
I explained to my BF that I really wanted to go and when he saw my eyes light up, he agreed that we had to go. He had a similar reaction to Disneyworld, which we went to for him… so this is my Disneyland!
Roquefort cheese is made from sheep in the local area, and a type of penicillium mould mixed in which is grown in the caves here. Then holes are poked in the cheese so the air can get in. The cheese is then kept in an underground cave system to mature. We toured the “Societe” cheese caves, which are the oldest and biggest. Our tour was only in French, but we were given an English sheet of paper explaining the process beforehand. It was fascinating to tour the caves and see the vast quantities of cheese!
The story goes that a shepherd boy discovered the concoction as he was out on the hills watching the sheep with a packed lunch of bread and sheep’s cheese. He got distracted by a woman and left his packed lunch in a cave and when he returned it was mouldy. So he ate it anyway! And lucky he did, as he discovered it was delicious and hence started the mouldy cheese business! 🙂
My BF is grossed out by the thought of eating mould, but nevertheless he partook of the tasting at the end of the tour. I was in heaven tasting the 3 different varieties of Roquefort cheese, and even my BF enjoyed it – he will try stuff like that as a type of “travel experience”. He would never eat it at home though!
After emerging from the caves, I was greeted by a view over the village and the green valley beyond, and I was stunned by its beauty and brightness (we had literally been in a cave for the last hour, after all 🙂 )
We had a wander around the village of Roquefort sur Soulzon, and popped into the rival brand of cheese, Papillon (butterfly) thinking we would tour these caves as well, but the staff were busy dealing with a coach party and the caves had closed for the day anyway.
All Roquefort in the world comes from this tiny village, and it is amazing that such a massive international brand comes from this sleepy place. Being such a big Roquefort fan, I’m SO glad we made the trip here and tasted Roquefort cheese in its home town! Also, now whenever i see Roquefort cheese in the supermarket, or buy it, it takes me right back to this holiday! A lovely souvenir if there ever was one!
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