One of the many lovely things about being in Normandy last week was the wonderful cheeses in the markets and cheese shops. I love cheese but especially these rich, creamy varieties like Camembert. However, my favourite in the region – and our favourite last year when in the area with my family – is Neufchatel.
Neufchatel is one of the oldest cheeses in France, made since the 6th century. It looks similar to Camembert but is grainier and has a stronger flavour. It is fabulous and I carefully brought one back in a cool bag for Jonathan and Lyndsey too. I also found a wonderful soft goat’s cheese in the market in Deauville on my last day.
There was such a wonderful display it was hard to choose but I went with this soft, nicey gooey one and it is really gorgeous. There was a man selling Alpine cheeses of the Gruyere type (obviously not local) and he was so chatty and gave me a taste one day. On the last day I couldn’t resist buying some – especially when he offered me a discount! He suggested buying the Beaufort cheese – and gave me a taste – and my bad French just about made out that he was telling me it had a deep, fruity, slightly nutty flavour and was excellent with white wine.
I said I’d buy just a small piece and I’m so glad I did. I just wish I’d bought more! And then, of course, there was the Camembert.
I do like Camembert and often buy it but to me it’s not a patch on the wonderful Neufchatel – which unfortunately is much harder to come by locally. They did have some in Waitrose for Valentine’s Day earlier this year – Neufchatel is usually shaped as a heart!
I decided to make a salad like the one I had in beautiful Cambremer last week – the only slight change was I added a few walnuts too and put some honey in my dressing. Honey is delicious with cheese. Other than that, I think I made a fair replica of the one I enjoyed at Au P’tit Normand (photo below).
My cheeses are a bit different: I didn’t bring back Livarot, for instance, but the essence of the lovely Normandy cheeses is there, with the apples. It was simply put together. A bed of green salad leaves. Then slices of the four cheeses mentioned above. I thinly sliced some apple and placed some between the cheeses, then sprinkled over a few walnuts that I roughly broke into large pieces.Then I drizzled over a dressing of olive oil, cider (of course!) vinegar, salt and pepper, and a little runny honey. It (below) looks pretty similar doesn’t it?
And, of course, the only thing to serve with it is gorgeous Cambremer cider!
Well, it wasn’t quite the same as sitting at a sweet little restaurant in the pretty Calvados countryside, but it was nevertheless delicious and a lovely memory of the holiday.