The Monks of Abondance Abbey began making their own cheese in the 11th century. They oversaw every step themselves, from raising the cows to crafting the product. The Abbey cheese quickly became popular, and was even served to Pope Clement VII in Avignon. Centuries later, in 1990, Abondance cheese from Haute-Savoie was granted AOC status, followed by PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status in 1996. It has retained all the traditional features of its early monastic days. The cheese is made from the milk of Abondance, and comes in flat, cylindrical mill-wheel shapes with a soft, amber-coloured rind. Milk from the evening milking is mixed with the following morning’s milk; rennet is added, the resulting curd is cut and the temperature raised to between 45 and 50°C. The whey is then racked off, and the curds transferred to a mould and labelled with a casein identification disc. The band around the mould is tightened with a hammer. The cheese is pressed for 24 hours, plunged into a brine bath and matured for a minimum of 100 days.
© Nathalie Carnet
Abondance in the abbeyrecipe from chef Elsa Marie
- For the poached pears
- 250 ml water
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 100 g unrefined sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon (unwaxed)
- 2 Bonne Louise pears
- For the Abondance mousse with rosemary
- 40 g Abondance (rind removed)
- 20 cl double cream
- 2 - 4 sprigs rosemary
- For the frosted Abondance
- 40 g Abondance (rind removed)
- For the crumble
- 50 g flour
- 20 g sourdough breadcrumbs
- 40 g unsalted butter
- 1 pinch of salt
- 10 g unrefined sugar
- 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
Poach the pears
- Place the water, rosemary, sugar and lemon zest in a saucepan.
- Whisk together and bring to the boil. Peel the pears and lower them gently into the syrup.
- Turn down the heat.
- Poach the pears for 15 minutes until tender.
- Cool in the fridge, in the syrup.
Abondance mousse with rosemary
- Finely dice the Abondance.
- Place in a saucepan with the cream and bring to the boil, whisking until the cheese has melted.
- Add the rosemary, cover the pan and remove from the heat.
- Allow to infuse for 10 minutes.
- Remove the rosemary, and pour the cream and cheese mixture into a whipping siphon.
- Charge with 2 gas cartridges; shake and place in the fridge to cool.
- The night before, place the Abondance in the freezer; this will make it easier to grate.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C.
- In a bowl, rub the flour, breadcrumbs, unsalted butter, salt, sugar and rosemary together with your fingers, to the texture of fine sand.
- When all the butter has been incorporated, spread the crumble over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 10 minutes, turn the crumble with a spatula and return to the oven for another 20 minutes at 160°C.
- When the crumble is golden-brown all over, remove from the oven.
- Cool and leave to set on the baking sheet.
- Place a little of the rosemary crumble in a dessert bowl.
- Add the Abondance mousse.
- Cut a slice from the bottom of each pear so it stands up, then place at the centre of the bed of mousse.
- Grate a generous amount of Abondance over the pear. The pear could also be sliced, arranged on the crumble and covered with Abondance mousse and grated Abondance to give a monochrome effect.
From an early age, Elsa Marie loved to eat – her love of cooking came later. With her hastily-assembled bun and youthful looks, Elsa Marie looks as if she’s come home at last. After a long time spent on the other side of the world, she’s back in Paris, and is now chef at La Vierge, “a warm, relaxed, affordable place to eat, and where you can eat well – because it’s possible to have both” she says. Elsa Marie is fully committed to sustainable agriculture; she chooses her ingredients with care, cooks vibrant lunch-time dishes at very reasonable prices and leaves the evening’s sharing platters and tapas to her husband Julian. For Sweet Cheese, she steered us back to Abondance – and we’re not complaining!