Brittany, the north-west region of France, comprising four departments: Morbihan, Finistère, Côtes d’Armor and Ille-et-Vilaine, is known best for its butter, fish and seafood. Some people claim that you won’t find here any interesting regional cheeses, but they are wrong. The Brittany offers an excellent selection of mostly cow’s milk cheeses.
Cow’s Milk Cheeses
Nantes currently is the capital of the Loire Atlantique department located in the Pays de la Loire region. However, this municipality was for a long time the capital city of the Duchy of Brittany, until its separation from the Vichy government in 1941. Even though debate has continued and for some has still not ended in favour or against of a possible reunification, the reality is that Breton influence remains, in terms of culture.
Curé Nantais, the refined soft cow cheese sold in small blocks was considered once the pride of Brittany and the best in the region. Matured for a month, with a sticky texture and the smoked bacon flavour it creates an intriguing combination.
Abbaye de Timadeuc
During the season (spring, summer and autumn), monks in the Morbihan produce a soft cheese from uncooked cow’s milk with a walnut brandy-washed orange rind. They mature it for two to three weeks, giving a mild and a bit salty taste. They sell the cheese in round blocks.
Joie de Notre Dame
In the same region where monks are producing Abbaye, the nuns make the Joie de Notre Dame, named after the region.
They’ve started producing cheese in 1925, and they continue to this day, the production going all year round.
Nuns make the Joie, a semi-hard cheese from an uncooked milk. The cheese is matured for four to six weeks while it’s washed in brine. It has a washed, rubbed and waxed rind and some small holes.
The shape of the cheese resembles the mill-stone.
The Merzer is produced in Noyal-sur-Vilaine, a commune in the Ille-et-Vilaine department of Brittany of uncooked, semi-skimmed cow’s milk and matured for three weeks.
Paysan Breton Luxury Creamy Cheese
This one is made from cow’s milk with a smooth texture and a fresh flavour. The best quality salt from Guerande helps with bringing the texture and the taste out.
Farms of Brittany were producing the Petit-Breton since 1921, and it’s one of the traditional cheeses, made of uncooked and pressed milk that develops a fruity flavour as it ripens. The inside of cheese has a gorgeous ivory look and a soft, smooth, melting texture.
Saint-Paulin was firstly made by Trappist monks as a creamy and semi-soft cheese. The pasteurised cow’s milk and four weeks long maturation give a buttery texture, and an edible yellow-orange rind allows slicing. It works ideal for serving as a table or dessert cheese with fruit and light wine.
Those aren’t all the cheeses of Brittany – you can find even more attractive, artisanal cheeses in Finistère, the extreme west region of Brittany.
La Tomme du Nevet, La Tome des Monts d’Arrée, La Petite Tome de l’Arrée
All those cheeses belong to the “Tomme” family.
Made from a raw cow milk, they are intricate, delicate and with a buttery aroma. With semi-soft or soft texture, white or yellow inside, usually covered with an ivory or yellow rind it creates a lovely combination to eat but also to look at.
As quite often small, local, organic farms produce the “Tomme” cheeses, the milk usually comes from happy, grass-fed cows.
Le Ty Pavez
This intriguing cheese was invented and developed on the Kerheu organic farm in 2006 and has won many different awards since that time.
This fascinating cheese is made from a raw cow milk and algae and aged with sea water for two to six months, resulting in an unusual taste.
Le Ménez Hom
Made from a raw goat’s milk, has a gentle, a bit sour flavour. It has a thin rind that is quite often coated by ash.
Chandamour is a bit different than the other soft cow cheeses on this listing as it has surface moulds.
Meilleraye de Bretagne
It’s a seasonal cheese available only in summer and autumn, made of pressed and unheated cow’s milk
Goat’s cheese is less popular than the milk cheese, but you can find a Little Billy, the cheese with a cute name. It is made with a whole goat’s milk that is ladled to achieve a fine and smooth paste. It’s soft and comes wrapped in a chestnut.
If you prefer to go for a cheesy meal instead of getting a block of cheese at a farmer’s market or a shop, you can go to the St Malo Restaurant at L’Entre Deux Verres and order spécialité de la Maison: gilthead bream fillets baked in a Ty Pavez crust.
This is quite a long list, as you can see, and I’m almost sure that it doesn’t exhaust the subject. And even though there are mostly cow’s milk cheeses, I think that whoever said that Brittany isn’t a land of cheese, didn’t do their homework!