The Birth of Blue

The village of Roquefort, France is located on the southern tip of the high Massif Central plateau about 100 miles from the Mediterranean Sea, and it is built into the cliffs containing the caves that “invented” blue cheese. Natural air currents vent these caves (called “fleurines“) and carry the naturally occurring Penicillium roqueforti spores through them, as well as keep the caves at a constant temperature and humidity. As part of the AOC definition of “Roquefort” cheese, all cheeses with that name must spend at least two weeks in these caves. This means that 24 hours a day trailer trucks full of young cheese are brought to the caves while each cheese that has already been two weeks in the caves are loaded back onto the same trailers and taken away to cold storage for final aging. Below are some pictures of the village, as well as of an antique cheese piercing machine that looks more like a medieval torture device (which is apt because long ago the Catholic Church purged non-believers from this region through a reign of torture and terror).
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Meeting: Olde Oak Farm

We had a very pleasant meeting with Scott, Arline, and everyone at Olde Oak Farm in Maxfield, north of Orono. Most interesting was a tour of Scott’s mobile cheese plant — a 12′ x 32′ structure complete with instant hot water, refrigeration, a twelve cheese press, and room for a walk-in cooler — which he moved from his previous location in Orono to this site. As he explained: “We were making cheese within fifteen minutes of the cheese plant being set down on the site.” Not only is the plant mobile, but almost everything in it is mobile, set on wheels. He has made every effort to reduce the lugging and lifting chores of the cheesemaker.

Arline and the greeter goats