Nestled within the majestic Rhone-Alps of France, there lies a treasure not of gold, but of an edible delight that has stood the test of time. It’s a culinary gem that has been handcrafted for centuries, carrying with it the rich history and traditions of its origin. This is not just any cheese; this is Abondance.
A semi-hard, fragrant wheel of wonder, Abondance cheese is as unique as the region from which it hails. Its distinct flavor and texture are born out of the mountainous terroir and the traditional methods used in its creation.
Quick Facts About Abondance
|Country of Origin||France|
|Age||3 months minimum|
|AOC||1990 (AOP 1996)|
|Milk||Raw cow’s milk, specifically from the Abondance breed of cattle|
|Classification||Semi-hard, artisanal, non-pasteurized, mountain cheese|
|Weight and shape||5 to 15 kg (11 – 33 lb), wheel|
|Size||Diameter 40 to 46 cm (14 – 18 inches), Height 7.5 to 10 cm (3 – 4 inches)|
|Taste||Acidic, buttery, fruity, hazalnut, sweet, mild, bitterness (depending on season & aging)|
|Aroma||Strong, robust, nutty, mushroom, vegetation|
|Texture||Smooth, rich and hard rind|
|Pairing||Green apples, cornichons, fondue with vegetables, Condrieu, Beaujolais|
|PDO Status||Yes, Abondance cheese holds a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status|
What is Abondance cheese?
Abondance cheese is a semi-hard, fragrant, and flavorful cheese that originates from the Rhône-Alps region of France. Named after the town of Abondance in the Haute-Savoie department, this cheese is made from raw cow’s milk, specifically from the Abondance breed of cattle.
It boasts a unique taste, with hints of hazelnut and butter, and a slightly acidic and fruity finish. The cheese has a creamy texture, and its rind is typically rubbed with salt water during the aging process, which can last for at least 100 days. This gives it a distinctive amber color.
Abondance cheese holds a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, meaning it must be produced in a specific geographical area using traditional methods. It is typically formed into wheels weighing between 6 to 12 kilograms (13 to 26 pounds).
The cheese is versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, including fondue, or enjoyed on its own with a glass of Savoie wine.
This hard cheese is made using three breeds of native cows: Montbéliarde, Tarines, and Abondance. To ensure that the quality of the milk remains consistent, the cattle are not fed silage or any other fermented fodder.
Tomme d’Abondance or in short, Abondance, is AOC-protected since 1990. In terms of aroma, this cheese is often being compared with Beaufort.
The Creation of Abondance
This cheese dates all the way back to the 11th century in the eponymous abbey which was managed by monks who used cheese as a currency.
It became incredibly popular after it made its debut on the table of the conclave of Pope Clement VII in Avignon in 1381.
What does Abondance cheese taste like?
Abondance cheese offers a complex and unique flavor profile. It is known for its slightly sweet taste, with distinct hints of hazelnut and butter. The cheese also has a slightly acidic tang and a fruity finish that adds to its overall depth and richness.
The flavor can also be somewhat earthy, reflecting the mountainous terroir where the Abondance cows graze. This makes it a truly unique cheese that is reflective of its origin in the Rhône-Alps region of France.
It’s important to note that the taste of Abondance cheese can vary depending on its age. Younger cheeses tend to be more mild and creamy, while older ones develop stronger, more intense flavors.
In terms of texture, Abondance is semi-hard and supple, adding to its appeal as a versatile cheese that can be enjoyed on its own or used in various dishes.
Abondance Tasting Notes
- Appearance: Abondance cheese has a pale yellow interior with a distinctive amber-colored rind. It is usually formed into wheels.
- Texture: The texture of Abondance is semi-hard and supple, making it easy to slice but still maintaining a certain creaminess.
- Aroma: The cheese emits a slightly sweet and fruity aroma, which can be more pronounced in older cheeses.
- Taste: Abondance offers a complex flavor profile. It features a slightly sweet taste, with distinct hints of hazelnut and butter.
- Finish: There’s a slight acidic tang to the cheese, along with a fruity finish that adds depth and richness to its overall flavor.
- Pairing: This cheese pairs well with a variety of foods and wines. It’s perfect for fondue or enjoyed on its own with a glass of Savoie wine.
- Maturation: The taste of Abondance can vary depending on its age. Younger cheeses tend to be more mild and creamy, while older ones develop stronger, more intense flavors.
- Terroir Influence: The earthy flavor of the cheese reflects the mountainous region where the Abondance cows graze, making it a true reflection of its terroir.
What pairs well with Abondance?
Food that goes well with Abondance:
|Breads and Crackers||Whole grain bread, Baguette, Artisanal crackers, Sourdough bread|
|Fruits and Nuts||Apples, Pears, Grapes, Walnuts, Almonds|
|Meats and Charcuterie||Salami, Prosciutto, Smoked ham|
|Condiments and Spreads||Fig jam, Honey, Quince paste|
|Vegetables||Olives, Pickles, Roasted red peppers|
|Other Cheeses||Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Comté|
|Desserts||Dark chocolate, Fruit tarts, Apple pie|
|Cooked Dishes||Fondue, Tartiflette, Raclette|
Also read: What Fruit Goes on a Charcuterie Board?
Beverage that goes well with Abondance:
|Wine||White Burgundy, Savoie White, Chardonnay|
|Beer||Belgian Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Wheat Beer|
|Non-Alcoholic||Apple Cider, Pear Juice, Grape Juice|
The History and Origin of Abondance
The history of Abondance cheese traces back to the 11th century and is intimately linked with the Abondance Abbey. The monks at the abbey were the ones who first started making this cheese. They also played a significant role in developing the pastures in the area from the 14th century onwards, which contributed to the production of this cheese.
Abondance cheese is made exclusively from the whole and unpasteurized milk produced by the local Abondance breed of cattle. This cheese has been produced in mountain chalets near France and Switzerland for centuries.
The method of making Abondance cheese is protected today, ensuring its quality and authenticity. Furthermore, it’s recognized as an AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) product, meaning its characteristics are closely linked to the geographical area of production.
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