In praise of: cantal au lait de Salers

Categories: Product stories

A strong and sturdy cow’s milk cheese from Mons Cheesemongers

Words: Mark Riddaway

I think we all presume that, while our virtues are commonplace, our flaws and eccentricities must be unique. They’re not. My cheeks sweat when I eat certain cheeses; just the cheeks, right on the cheekbones, and varying in intensity from a light flush to an alarming swell of briny groundwater—enough to be flicked with a finger or mopped with a tissue.

Having never met another cheesy cheek-sweater or seen one represented in film and literature, I used to suppose I was alone in this affliction, pink-faced and moist like a 13-year-old boy at a burlesque show. But then a friend sitting next to me at dinner started wiping his face as we demolished a cheeseboard, and I discovered that, while I may be a freak, I’m not the only one. Now I see it as a blessing.

For we happy few, cheese-eating is a multi-sensory experience the rest of you will never know. It’s like an X-Men mutation, just one with few practical applications.

A properly ballsy cheddar
I still don’t understand what it is that turns on the taps beneath my skin. It takes a strong cow’s cheese. Something hard and rustic: a Lincolnshire Poacher or a properly ballsy cheddar. This exceptional cantal, made in the Auvergne region of central France, registers high on the scale.

Made from the raw milk of the magnificent and increasingly rare Salers cow, it is sturdy yet buttery, long and strong in flavour, with a bright, acidic finish—and the response from my pores is that of a sprinkler system in an office fire. It’s as if my cheeks are weeping at its sheer beauty. There can be no more pleasurable way of attaining such a warm and sweaty face. Or at least not in civilised company.