Europe is where ancient cheese traditions lie. But this is also where progress is forcing out tradition most quickly. We want to savour these old world cheeses before that happens. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone.
SMALL FAMILY FARMS
People who insist on making authentic cheeses given present-day challenges are stubborn folks who refuse to change tradition. We support small family farms because when we ring them up to chat about the animals and the cheese and the weather, they understand these are just as important to us.
The basis of many great European cheeses is raw milk. Cheese is made every day, sometimes twice a day, whilst the milk is still blood-warm.
Raw milk allows good bacteria to exist. Each batch of raw milk has a slightly different flora and that in turn gives a different flavour profile to cheese each time. This is partly why no two wheels are ever exactly the same. This is the beauty of raw milk.
PASTURED, GRASS-FED ANIMALS
Pasturing animals takes time and is a real person’s job (it was mine). For efficiency and productivity, dairies keep the animals indoors all the time.
But pasturing means the animals are eating a different buffet of herbs and grasses every day. It makes for better nutrients in the milk, resulting in better cheese. It also means the cheese is never the same from week to week. Real farmers and cheesemakers who work with nature celebrate this variability. They honour it.
Terroir is not only what is in the earth. It includes the ecosystem above it too, since they affect each other. We look for cheese in places full of nature and clear of industry. It is where pasture and animals thrive. It is the beginning of great cheese.