Pont l'Evêque, one of the world's ancient cheeses is probably the oldest Norman (from Normandy - French region) cheese still in production. Its history dates back to the twelve-century, when the cheese was originally called d'Angelot. Centuries later, it took the name of the village in Normandy where it is mainly produced. Pont l'Evêque is a small, square-shaped cheese of a pale yellow color with a white-orange rind. Its strong smell could indicate a powerful cheese, but this is not the case; it is a fruity, subtle, and refined cheese, and always greatly appreciated by cheese lovers for its creamy texture. Pont l'Evêque is best when eaten at room temperature. Savor it plain with some crunchy leavened bread, or with dried fruits, like figs or hazelnuts. It pairs well with Pinot Noire, or Saint Emilion, Bourgogne Blanc or Cider brut.
Made from rich, salty, pasteurized cow's milk, this cheese's taste is acquired from the gentle sun and humidity that produce the lush grass in Normandy. The taste is creamy, finely textured, and smooth, it is extremely pleasant, especially if you choose to eat the rind. (Some prefer to trim it). 0.8 gallon of cow's milk and 40-45 days are necessary to obtain a mature Pont l'Evêque. As the cheese ripens, the rind takes on an orange/red color, while the pate turns soft and yellow. It is a cheese rich in nutrients, notably calcium, phosphorus, carotene, lipids and protein. Pont l'Evêque is a cheese the French are very proud to call their own.
A local legend claims that Pont l'Evêque was first made in a Cistercian abbey around the twelfth century. A manuscript from the time writes that a fine meal should always end with some "Angelot", the name used for the cheese at the time. Guillaume de Loris later mentioned it in the book “Roman de la Rose” under the name of "Angelot". Also quoted during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by various chroniclers under the name of "Augelot", in reference to its original area, the "Pays d'Auge". The cheese became popular across the country from the 17th century onwards, when it obtained the name of the village around which its production was centered; Pont l'Evêque situated between Deauville and Lisieux. Pont l'Evêque received the PDO designation in 1972. The decree defines: the area of production, the conditions of production, the characteristics of the cheese, and the necessary inspection.
The milk is heated (never above 104°F) and rennet added to make the milk curdle. The curd is cut and stirred in order to drain off the whey. It is then molded, then matured in a "hot" room (71.5°F) and frequently turned upside down. Once the whey is drained away, the cheese is placed in a "cold" room for five days where it is turned daily. Then it is salted, washed and brushed many times.Pont l'Evêque is a soft cheese, made with split curd, forced drain. It was originally made from fresh warm milk, which explains why its technology still suits quite well the farm making which is carried on. As part of the PDO designation, Pont l'Evêque workshops regularly undergo quality checks. The cheeses are tested by experts and rated on shape, look, type, and taste.