In Saint Flour, the warm summers follow the harsh winters. The rainfall is important and the winter snow varies from 2 to 5 months. The lands are mainly covered with a blanket of greenery, which has given Auvergne its name: the Green Country. Cantorel Bleu d'Auvergne (Bluh doh-VAIRN-yuh), is a cheese of ivory-white color, veined with bluish-green moulds, evenly distributed throughout the cheese. The wheels have a natural rind, often with some white surface mold. The cheese is typically creamy, buttery and moist, with a smooth texture and full taste. The flavor is salty, but it isn't sharp or biting. Bleu d'Auvergne is best served at room temperature. It is excellent in pasta sauces or in salad dressings, and also goes well with nuts and raw mushrooms. It is a perfect choice for a cheese board, or when added to buttered canapés. You may also try a small piece of Bleu d'Auvergne on a slice of pear or with honey.
It is about forty kilometers to the west of Clermont-Ferrand that Auvergne's blue cheese gained an identity and reputation, which, over the decades, has never diminished. We are in 1845. Many producers from Auvergne made cheeses in their own unique way. One of them, Antoine ROUSSEL, noticed that some pieces happened to turn blue in the cellars and therefore brought a flavor, which ROUSSEL characterized as "special, pleasant and scented". It is this blueness, which he consequently endeavored to develop. He multiplied the experiments and modified the manufacturing processes. After several unsuccessful experiments, he noticed that the rye bread placed close to the types of French blue-veined cheese turned blue in the same way. His idea of associating this mould with the cheese was a great success. He discovered the secret of blueness, which he perfected by artificially creating holes in the cheese with the help of fixed needles into a piece of wood: he invented the "pricker" and the technique of "pricking". The success of his cheese was so great that many producers from the region started to copy him. Antoine ROUSSEL continued to refine his manufacturing processes and standardised the format of what would become, in 1975, the AOC "Bleu d'Auvergne".
Gathering the grain, salting by hand, and oxygen: the secrets of manufacturing Cantorel Bleu d'Auvergne is exclusively made from pasteurized cow's milk; it is inoculated with lactic ferments at the time of manufacturing. (The milk is inoculated with Penicillium roqueforti and reheated.) Rennet is then added. Once coagulation has been achieved, the curds are sliced then drained. Then it is time for salting. This stage is still done manually. Once removed from the mould, the breads are salted in two phases: firstly on one side and on the crust, then on the following day a second salting takes place to cover the crust as well as the other side. Bleu d'Auvergne Crafting Now is the moment of pricking: a key stage, which allows the blueness to develop. Knitting needles of old have for a long time given way to a mechanical pricking which today allows you to obtain homogenous smoothing. The end result of this stage is identical though: air out the cheese so as to allow for the development of the blueness. Finally the cheeses will benefit from the special atmosphere in the fresh and humid cellars where they will be kept for a minimum of 4 weeks..
The wine that works best with Bleu d'Auvergne will depend on how mature and aggressive the cheese is. With a moist, mild wedge, you can serve a gently sweet wine, like Jurancon or Pouilly-Fuisse, a light red like Pomerol Bordeaux. A Sauternes, or tawny Port. A wheel with more intense, aged flavors is best enjoyed with a full-bodied red wine, such as a good Cahors or Côtes du Rhône or Crozes Hermitage.
The Cantorel Bleu d'Auvergne cheese is made at the site of Saint Flour in the heart of Auvergne, in the Fromageries Occitanes, still following the traditional processes. The decree of March 7 1975 determines the essential features for obtaining and maintaining the AOC certification (Protected Designation of Origin) for the French blue cheese, Bleu d'Auvergne. It is a question of the geographic site of production, conditions of production, qualities and aspects of the product as well as methods of inspection carried out by professionals. In 2008 at the General Agricultural Contest of France, the Cantorel Bleu d'Auvergne (Export) received a silver medal for its outstanding qualities.