Le Salers Fermier AOP/AOC [Auvergne, France]
Surprise! I do have interests beyond oozy, stinky cheeses. And one of them is a cheese of the ancients called Salers, traced back as far as 2,000 years by some accounts. Inspired by reading comments like these, I’d kept an eye peeled in France last year, but did not run across it there.
RockDoveFarm: “Honestly I think the cheese I most love that is in a similar style to BdT isn't a blue at all: Salers. I love the eggy, yeasty, rich flavor and it is also blued up on several of the occasions that I've gotten it.”
martyn94: “Also Salers which is basically Cantal made to tighter standards: if you have the chance, see the salers cattle whose milk is used - they are very beautiful.”
PreservedFish: “Salers is a related cheese from the same region. I think it is essentially Cantal but made in a different season. I have had VERY funky and sharp Salers before, which tasted like a mistreated Keens cheddar, in which the rotten vegetable flavor (nice in small doses) got out of hand.”
So, imagine my delight at finding Salers on display at the cheese counter at Miki’s in Palo Alto. Shannon, the cheesemonger, shaved off a very thin slice for me to try. I was amazed at how the flavors bloomed as soon as the cheese touched the tongue. Often compared to fine English cheddar, I’d say that the flavor profiles share some similarities though Salers is grassier/greener in taste. The main difference to me is that Salers is more delicate and subtle in attack versus the robustness of cheddar. It manages to be intense and complex yet refined at the same time. I loved the crystalline texture, similar to older parmesan. And like RockDoveFarm stated above, there’s a bread dough yeast quality and a flan-like egginess too that’s completely unique.
Shannon said production of this cheese is very limited because Salers cattle can only be milked in the presence of their calf. This is mentioned in the Les Affines blog post as well, linked below.
At $24 per pound, Salers Fermier is not an every day cheese. It is, however, one I’ll seek out the next time I need a hard cheese for the table.
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Cheddar in France? Surely Not?
Le Salers: unique fromage AOC exclusivement fermier
Oh thank you! I've only been in the store once and was pushing a wheelchair so I didn't try to squeeze into the cheese room. I definitely need to go back and take a closer look at the whole place. A house guest once brought me some French butter and Coulet roquefort he'd purchased here.
And if one is visiting San Francisco's Hayes Valley neighborhood, here's a google map of food and drink attractions that I made. I haven't been to all of them, so they're not personal recs, but I think they probably all deserve a look-see.