My ancestors were farmers. I mention this as sort of a confession- I am notoriously bad with growing things. The only houseplants I have not murdered are my carnivorous plants-I have three. They sort of fend for themselves. Cheese making is actually farming-on a micro-organism scale- if you think about it. All cheese is actually made from a culture. You don’t re-create cheese every time you make it, you hold back a little bit of your old cheese, and introduce it into the new batch. In a way cheese-like all living creatures-comes from an unbroken line, stretching back into the unknown.
Like farm animals, this tiny “culture” of bacteria is then tended to: it’s given warmth, protein, sugars, it’s bathed in salts, it’s dried, it’s washed with things, all in an attempt to let the bacteria grow in a controlled sort of way-just like farming. If the bacterial flora isn’t happy and doesn’t grow correctly, the cheese won’t happen. Given this, I suspect I would be a poor cheese maker.The combination of growing things without killing them, and patience is a tall order for me.
I mention this connection between farming on a macro-scale, and farming on a micro-scale, as some makers of cheese do both of these, simultaneously. There are still a few remaining farm-made cheeses, where the farmer owns the cows and makes the cheese all in one location. This tends to be where we find our raw milk cheeses, as milk really needs to be pasteurized unless it’s used immediately.
Today’s cheese Le Gaulois,(the Gaul, think, Asterix) is a raw milk cow cheese from the farm of Rudy Ducreux in Quebec. He farms cows by day, and cheese bacteria by night. Ducreux has 20 Jersey cows who provide all the milk for this small operation. Due to the scale of this farm, he is able to have control over every aspect-including what the cows eat, his cows are fed with herbs and hay from the farm only. Everything happens in this location, the cows are born, they live, they lactate, the cheese is born, it ages, and it is sold. Pretty cool. Why in the world then, do they have such a crap online presence? It was virtually impossible to learn anything about this cheese. Hey Rudy Ducreux, you are pretty amazing, but you need to get a teenager to build you a website-just some constructive criticism.
Le Gaulois cheese is a bloomy rind, and a Canadian take on the French Reblochon cheese. If you have been following my blog, you will know that I have sworn off bloomy rind. However, my new cheese friend, Andrew at Benton Brothers swears I have to try this one, and I must listen to his wise words. This rind is the host to several moulds-beige, white and blue-gray, so there is an awful lot of farming going on here. Perhaps that’s why they are so busy and can’t tend to their online presence!
Gaulois is one of the only true raw milk cheeses available in Canada. Ducreux obtained a special license in 2010 that allows him to produce a cheese refined less than 60 days. He is one of three cheese makers with this special license. So it’s kind of thrilling to sample this cheese, it’s like the puffer fish liver in Japan: deadly if prepared incorrectly, divine if prepared by a master. I put my life in your hands, Mr. Ducreux!
My little fat wedge of Gaulois cheese has an orange and white looking rind, the paste looks creamy and yellow. The smell is faintly ammoniac, but not overly raunchy, it’s keeping it together and not running all over the place. I’m a little scared. If the blog isn’t here tomorrow it was the raw milk cheese!
The taste is quite smooth-it’s a little salty and not sweet at all, there’s a faint hit of rot, but overall it’s quite mild and unremarkable-but the texture is totally over the top…it’s actually sticky and cloying, it’s cleaved unto my mouth and teeth, I have never experienced such a sticky cheese before, it’s almost lewd. If you mix a little rind in with the paste it becomes more manageable and you can actually eat it. Mmmm, actually, it’s quite good-for a bloomy rind cheese. The taste is so approachable, it wouldn’t scare off a cheese wimp, but it’s also nuanced enough to intrigue a cheese lover (tyrophile), so it’s a good balance. I really appreciate that it is Canadian, and raw, and so old-school. Mr. Ducreux, you make yourself a fine cheese, bravo!