Cheesy Christmas 2: St-Nectaire

Cheesy Christmas 2: St-Nectaire

Welcome to Day 2 of this year’s Cheesy Christmas… Part Deux!

Today’s cheese was a discovery for us as I don’t think we’d ever tasted it before.

I’ll tell you about it, but let me also relay a few cheese-tasting tips from the booklet that accompanied our cheeses…

Cheese Tasting

The good folks at LaBoxFromage suggest 3 steps to ensure a proper experience:

  1. Keep Cool: Cheese should be kept in the fridge or an unheated space, between 6-8˚C (43-46˚F). Take it out just prior to beginning your meal so that, while you eat, it will warm up just enough (Reminder: typically the French serve cheese between the main courses and dessert).
  2. Observe & Smell: First thing’s first, note the shape, the rind, the undercrust, the colour and the coating (if for example it’s been coated). What do you see? Next, get in a little closer and inhale slowly. What smell do you detect? Strong? Mild?
  3. Taste: After observing and smelling the cheese, your mouth should be watering. Now’s the time to take a bite, BUT … go slow and, for your first bite, don’t immediately combine it with bread or crackers. You want to only taste the cheese. The flavours and aromas will change as you chew. The aftertaste may be something different altogether.

Looking for a more precise vocabulary for describing various cheeses? Food52’s article How to Talk About Cheese is a nice middle ground between ‘slightly high-brow’ and ‘not overly technical’.

Day #2: St. Nectaire

  • Name: St-Nectaire You can see from the picture that this is a firm cheese – they are typically aged for roughly 28 days. The crust is orange-y brown with a bloom of white mold. The word ‘nectaire’ is derived from ‘nectar’ which reflects sweetness.
  • Region: This cheese is from the mountainous center region of France (800-1,500m altitude). Because it’s a “Protected Place of Origin” cheese, it can only be produced in an area of roughly 1,800 km2, between the Cantal and Puy-de-Dôme departments (provinces).
  • Milk: raw Cow’s milk
    Although it CAN be made with pasteurized milk as well, ours was made with raw milk, meaning that its processing begins immediately following milking, which happens twice per day.
  • Our Score: 3/5
    I wouldn’t say that this was a particularly sweet cheese, as the name might suggest. We tried it with the rind, but just for the sake of trying it. I’ve got to admit that after tasting with, we tried it just by itself, without the rind, and liked it a bit better. The non-rind taste was pleasingly mild. There was a woody-earthy taste and while the literature mentioned a hazelnut flavour, we didn’t notice that.

I think you can see from the picture below, that the rind didn’t look particularly appetizing. Again… we tried it for the sake of trying it, but preferred it without.


The Cheese quote of the day is a little less high-brow that yesterday’s quote from France’s General deGaulle.

Today, I give you the words of country music legend Willie Nelson…

“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”


Happy Cheesy Christmas….
See you tomorrow for cheese #3

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