Fourme D'Ambert is one of France's oldest cheeses. Records of the cheese date from 8th century CE - there is a 9th century image of the cheese carved in at La Chaume - and most likely ancient Celts made the cheese in Auvernes in south central France prior to the Roman occupation. It is traditionally a farm house cheese made from milk from cows that graze in lower to higher mountain pastures (from 1968 and 5249 feet) depending on the season. It is a semi-hard blue cheese. It is innoculated with Pennicillium roqueforti and matures in 40 days and is cave aged from two to three months. While aging, the cheese makers inject it with Vouvray moelleux, a sweet white wine.
Fourme D'Ambert is very similar to Fourme de Montbrison and the two cheese received AOC protection in 1972. In 2002 they were each given their own AOC protection.
Fourme D'Ambert has that ripe and funky old socks smell with some traces of fruit and earthy mushroom thrown in. Its cream colored with small to medium eyes and irregular blue-green veining throughout. It is semi-hard, yet moist and creamy and melts in your mouth. It is creamier, more buttery, not quite as salty, and less intense than other blue cheeses.
I am drinking Fourme D'Ambert with Hammerheart Midvinter Øl, a black ale brewed with cocoa, chipotle, coriander, cardamon, cinnamon, clove, and hops and aged in akvavit barrels. The beer has big bold malts with fruity chocolat notes lightly accented by the added spices and the akvavit. The beer has a slight earthiness, a trace iof apricot and dark dried fruit with a mild sweetness. The barrell with a little help fom the spices adds a slight astringent note on the finish and just enough akvavit sneeks through to know it is there. The beer and the cheese dance. The beer's light carbonation strips off some of the cheese's fat to reveal new flavors and the spices and akvavit work nicely with the cheese's funk. The saltiness in the cheese highlights the malt flavors while the malt in turn tones down the salt. The cheese's creaminess works with the chocolate in the beer and the beer's mild sweetness balances the cheese's slight tang. The cheese's meatiness brings out a slight meatiness in the beer. The beer's fruit notes - especially the apricot and the dried fruit go especially well with the cheese. Each bite and drink reveal nes flavors and have you wondering - "why didn't I know about this before?" The cheese also works nicely in salads, on a burger or melted on a steak. The beer would work well with the cheese in all of these cases.