The Last Farm-Made Camembert?
I wrote recently about our trip to the Basse-Normandie region (Lower Normandy) for a long holiday weekend. A mere two hours by car, it’s a beautiful area where one can enjoy the riches of the French countryside. As a former colleague once explained to me that France is still “un pays de terre,” a country deeply connected to the land or soil. This is one of my favorite aspects of France, but I had never been to a working cheese farm until this trip, and what a treat it was. This wasn’t just any farm either: it’s the only farm that makes the veritable Camembert de Normandie appellation d’origine protégée from raw milk ladled into molds by hand to final product.
Fromagerie Durand is situated, naturally, in the commune of Camembert. There, you can see every facet of the cheese fabrication. The buildings on the property aren’t especially large, which makes sense given that this is artisanal production. It’s basically just cows, pastures, people, and the fruit of their labor, excellent camemberts. We were able to observe the still-young cheeses being taken out of their molds (“démoulage”) and rolled lightly in salt (“salage”).
Nadia Durand greets visitors and customers with the charm of someone who truly enjoys what they do. She and I spoke a good while about their cheeses and their commitment to traditional methods. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding… or in this case in the Camembert! Theirs is rich with the earthy taste of the pasture where the cows grazed and has the light nutty flavor from a brief but well-managed aging. It’s a fantastic cheese, as were the other farm-made cheeses I had in Normandy. The best part of the visit according to my kids was seeing the recently-born cows.
Fromagerie Durand, La Héronnière, 61120 Camembert