The Good Life France Magazine




The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...


Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

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11 months ago

Issue No. 16

Bringing you the best of France including captivating towns like sunny Montpellier, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the antiques capital of Provence, Gascony, Chateaux of the Loire Valley, Paris, Lyon, a long lost cheese story, mouth-watering recipes and a whole lot more.

The long lost love

The long lost love Cheese of the Auvergne Michael Cranmer goes all Sherlock Holmes to find a mystery cheese he fell in love with in the Auvergne... It began ten years ago, on Friday 15 February, 2008, to be precise, in a small hotel, in a small town called Le Mont-Dore in the Auvergne. I'd stopped for the night en-route to the Alps. After my long drive I just wanted a meal and then bed. The food was decent, the elderly waiter attentive. Clearing my plate he asked if I would like any cheese. I don’t suffer ‘cheese-dreams’, so said “yes”, little knowing that the memory would haunt me for the next decade. He brought a selection. In the centre was a small volcano, its pale lovely crust covered in a dusting of ash. How extraordinary! (... but perhaps not, as the Auvergne is dotted with dormant volcanoes). Intrigued, I cut a slice. An eruption of pleasure filled my mouth. I smiled. The waiter smiled, “Vous aimez ça?” Oh, yes, I like it very much. Intensely creamy, slightly pungent; I closed my eyes in ecstasy as the flavour held me. Finally, I asked the name…and promptly forgot it. That was a BIG MISTAKE, and one that was to haunt me for the next ten years. If only I’d written it down. If only my memory was not like a perforated plastic bag. If only… But for then I went to bed a happy man, savouring the aftertaste of my little slice of delectation. Somehow, as I slept, the volcanic remembrance embedded itself in my subconscious, to surface intermittently and worry at me like the equivalent of a snatch of a song... I knew I loved THAT cheese, and I wanted more. But how to get it? An early start meant no chance to enquire in the town. Time passed, the taste nagged at me: I would gaze wistfully in fromageries hoping for a glimpse of my lost love (which was definitely féminin in my mind, not masculin). I trawled the internet, always looking. On a visit to Paris, enquiries in the best cheese shops yielded only shrugs. But I never gave up. Always searching, always hoping, always longing. Then, nine years after that first and only assignation, whilst in London I bumped

into Corinne from Auvergne Rhône-Alps Tourism and told her of my plight. She understood at once, “Leave it with me. I will make some enquiries”. Two weeks passed, until, one morning I had an email from Corinne! ‘I tried to find a pyramid-shape cheese covered in ash, made in Auvergne. I found one last Saturday, it is a goat cheese, it does exist’. My heart raced as I read her reply. But then came another email from my French ‘Sherlock Holmes’, this time with a photograph: “Dear Michael, … there is a cheese in the centre of the picture which is the one you are looking for, in La Fromagerie Nivesse cheese shop in Clermont-Ferrand and the cheese is a raw milk goat cheese, from the region of Courpière, not far away from Clermont- Ferrand. The name of the cheese is Le mont de Courtesserre”. Eureka! I’d been right all along. My lovely did exist, just an hour and a half from where I’d had my first-and-only-taste. I began to study the photo ‘Sherlock’ (aka Corinne) had sent. It was tantalizingly ambiguous. Taken from directly above, it showed nine cheeses, the central one being square and ash-covered. As I puzzled over it, a sinking feeling came over me. This didn’t fit with my ten year-old memory. Yes, it was obviously a goat’s cheese. Yes, it was dusted with ash. Yes, the texture and rind looked right, but the distinctive volcano shape just wasn’t there. Now in a panic, I contacted ‘Sherlock’ expressing my doubts. She explained that the overhead viewpoint didn’t show the volcano shape of my ‘chosen’ (as she so charmingly called it). It was like holding an identity parade from above. Phew! ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’ (to misquote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)