Welcome to a journey into the heart of Northern France, where the rich traditions of monastic cheesemaking are alive and well.
In the quaint town of Godewaersvelde, nestled in the Nord department, lies the Mont des Cats abbey, known in Flemish as Katsberg. This isn’t just any monastery; it’s a cheese lover’s paradise.
Here, the monks have been crafting the distinctive Abbaye du Mont des Cats cheese since 1890, a testament to their dedication and craftsmanship.
This cheese is more than just a delightful culinary experience; it’s a taste of Northern France’s culture and history.
So, what exactly is Abbaye du Mont des Cats, and how did it come to be? Let’s delve into the intriguing story behind this famous Trappist cheese.
Quick Facts About Abbaye du Mont des Cats
|Country of Origin||France, Mont des Cats|
|Producer||Abbaye du Mont des Cats|
|Production||Handmade by monks|
|Weight and Shape||2 kg (4 lb 6 oz), Round|
|Size||Diameter 25 cm (10 inches), Height 3.5 cm (1.5 inches)|
|Texture||Supple and elastic interior|
|Age||Minimum of 2 months|
|Taste and aroma||Subtle, mild, hint of floral, salty, milky, rustic aroma of hay|
|Pairing||Light beer, light fruity wine, Cabernet-Sauvignon|
What is Abbaye du Mont des Cats?
The Abbaye du Mont des Cats is a monastery located in the Mont des Cats, a small mountain in the region of Hauts-de-France, France. The monastery was founded in 1826 near the town of Godewaersvelde (God’s Plain) and is inhabited by a community of Trappist monks.
One of the unique aspects of this abbey is its production of the famous Mont des Cats cheese. This is a semi-hard, pressed cheese made from cow’s milk. The cheese is handmade by the monks following a traditional method and is known for its smooth and supple texture, and mild, tangy flavor with fruity notes. It is typically aged for a minimum of two months.
The abbey also offers a shop where visitors can purchase their cheese and other products made by monasteries, such as beer, sweets, and religious articles.
The Abbaye du Mont des Cats represents an enduring tradition of monastic life and artisanal cheesemaking in the heart of France.
What does Abbaye du Mont des Cats taste like?
Abbaye du Mont des Cats cheese is known for its unique and delightful taste. It has a mild, tangy flavor with fruity notes.
The cheese is semi-hard and made from cow’s milk, which gives it a rich and creamy taste. It also has a slight earthy undertone, a characteristic often found in cheeses produced in monasteries. The flavor tends to become more complex and robust as the cheese ages.
It’s worth noting that taste can be subjective and can vary depending on factors like the specific batch of cheese, its age, what it’s paired with, and individual palate.
Mont des Cats Tasting Notes
- Aroma: The cheese has a pleasant, slightly earthy aroma. This is due to the traditional monastic cheesemaking methods used in its production.
- Flavor: Mont des Cats offers a mild, tangy flavor with noticeable fruity notes. As the cheese ages, these flavors become more complex and robust.
- Texture: The texture of this cheese is smooth and supple, adding a delightful mouthfeel. It’s a semi-hard cheese, so it has a bit of firmness without being too hard or crumbly.
- Aftertaste: The aftertaste is lingering and pleasantly tangy, often leaving a subtle hint of fruitiness on the palate.
- Pairing: Mont des Cats pairs well with a variety of foods and drinks. It goes excellently with crusty bread and fruity red wines. It can also be enjoyed with apples or pears for a sweet contrast.
What pairs well with Abbaye du Mont des Cats?
Food that goes well with Abbaye du Mont des Cats:
|Appetizers/Canapes||Crusty bread, sliced apples or pears|
|Main Course||Flemish dishes like waterzooï, hochepot or potjevleesch|
|Salads||Fresh greens, perhaps with a light vinaigrette|
|Desserts||Pair the cheese with a dessert course for a contrast in flavors|
Beverage that goes well with Abbaye du Mont des Cats:
|Beer||Mont Des Cats Biere Trappiste, Belgian Pale Strong Ale|
|Wine||Light fruity wine such as Loire red or a dry white cadet|
|Coffee||Coffee is a common pairing for this cheese, particularly for breakfast|
|Spirits & Liqueurs||Brandy, Gin, Grappa, Liqueurs/Aperitifs|
The History and Origin of Abbaye du Mont des Cats
Abbaye du Mont des Cats cheese has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. It is produced by Trappist monks at the Abbey of Saint-Marie-du-Mont, located near the town of Godewaersvelde in Northern France.
The production of this cheese began in 1890, making it an integral part of the monastery’s tradition for over a century. The cheese is made from cow’s milk sourced locally, which contributes to its unique flavor profile.
Located between Lille and Dunkirk, the Mont-des-Cats Abbey continues to produce this cheese. It is known for its soft texture and subtle, yet complex, flavors.
The Mont des Cats cheese is characterized by a fat content of 50%, giving it a rich and creamy consistency. Today, it remains a symbol of the region’s rich culinary and monastic heritage.
More Cheeses from France: