Many of you are probably familiar with Cantal, one of the oldest French cheeses, even mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his encylocpedia Natual History. This cheese is named after the mountain area from which this cheese hails from, known as "Volcano Country" in the Auvergne region. The The mountains are virtually covered in grassland due to rich volcanic ash soil and is abundant in biodiversity, with records of over 60 types of flora! A cheesemaking paradise!
Cantal is made using the cheddaring process, one of the few french cheeses to utilize this cheese making method. The center is "Dore"- Golden and taste of butter and sweet cream and gets more grassy, sturdy and robust towards the grayish brown rind.
I had a few french customers requesting this cheese, including one of my favorite customers, Jean Pierre Gorin, who recalls memories of eating Cantal whipped with potatoes to make aligot. ( If you are not familiar with Aligot, youtube it right after you finish reading this. It's my 3 favorite foods, cheese, potatoes and garlic, enough said). I was able to get my hands on Cantalet Dore but I'm not quite sure what the difference is from AOC Cantal. To my understanding it is just a smaller version of Cantal, which comes in wheels weighing 80lbs and the Cantalet Dore being 20lbs. I've only had Cantal a handful of times, leaving me with mixed feelings. I believe some of the wheels I've tasted in the past might have been past their prime. Thus I was nervous to bring it the shop but I was pleasantly surprised with the texture and flavor.
What have been your experience with Cantal. Which varieties of Cantal have you had? Do you have a preference? what the hell is the difference between Cantal and Cantalet dore (besides size)?