Roquefort-sur-Soulzon Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon

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    Lavogne

    by JLBG Updated Oct 4, 2005

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    This miniature shows a traditional sheepfold in the background with a ''lavogne'' in the foreground. A lavogne is a doline that has been paved to get a semi natural watering place for the sheep. On the left, the shepherd's shelter can be seen.

    The second and the third photo were not taken in the Roquefort area but some 1,000 km away, in Istria. I do not know how it is called in Istria, but this is exactly how a "lavogne" from Roquefort looks. This is not really a big surprise as the geology of Istria and of the "Causse du Larzac" are the same, typical karst.

    BTW, "karst", "doline" are Slovenian words that are used worldwide, in every language by geologs and geographers.

    However, I did not expect such a look alike !

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    Other ''Papillon'' cheese

    by JLBG Updated Nov 16, 2004

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    When there is plenty of milk, at Papillon's (others do the same) they make other kind of ewe cheeses, under another brand to avoid any confusion.

    At one time (20 years ago or so) there was not enough milk and ewe milk from the Pyrénées and from Corsica was used for Roquefort making, which is not allowed anymore as there is enough milk. Only the maturing process was done in the Roquefort caves.

    Roquefort Société has kept these dairies. Now in the Pyrénées, they make Basque cheese (under other brands) and in Corsica, they make feta under the brand name of Salakis which has gained a wide recognition. Greece asks that the name of feta would only be allowed for ewe cheese made in Greece. The problem is not yet settled.

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    Maturing cheese

    by JLBG Updated Nov 16, 2004

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    These white cheese that already contains the Penicillium lay on their side. The master cheese maker checks them everyday for month, and when necessary drills a sample to check the inside. When he considers that the cheese is done, women, the ''cabanières'' wrap each one in a tin foil so that the Penicillium will not have any air anymore and will not develop anymore. These wrapped cheeses can be kept for month in the caves, until sold.

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    The ''Papillon'' company

    by JLBG Updated Nov 16, 2004

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    The ''Papillon'' company organizes too a visit of their cave. The visit is free but much shorter than Roquefort Société but different. You should visit both. You can take pictures.

    They have used their name ''Papillon'' (butterfly) for their logo

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    One of those ''fleurines''

    by JLBG Updated Nov 16, 2004

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    The cracks or faults are better known as “fleurines”. It is through the complex system of interconnected fleurines that the air runs through the caves. Thus, it maintains the conditions of wetness (95-99%) and temperature constant (7-11°C).

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    Raw cheese

    by JLBG Updated Nov 16, 2004

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    Different stages of the process are shown in the show room of Gabriel Coulet. More explanation will be given in Papillon cave.
    The different stages are :
    1) cheese draining in a mould
    2) drained cheese
    3) on the left, drained cheeses gathered to be sent to Roquefort for maturing
    4) on the left, center of the picture, matured cheese ready to wrap in tin foil
    5) in the background wrapped cheese, airproof wrapped, that can wait as long as necessary before sale

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    Gabriel Coulet cave

    by JLBG Updated Nov 16, 2004

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    The Gabriel Coulet cave is not open for visit but instead, they have arranged a very interesting show room.
    On one of the walls a painting represents peasants having a “casse-croûte” in the field and sharing Roquefort.

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    The Church

    by JLBG Updated Nov 16, 2004

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    From the entrance of the Roquefort Society caves, you can view the church. It was build recently and has a modern style, though its architect has been strongly inspired by the ancient local style of building.

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    The first Société

    by JLBG Updated Nov 16, 2004

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    At the turn of the 19th century, several small companies associated themselves and created the ''Société Anonyme des Caves Associées de Roquefort'', which name remains on this building. The name was too long and it became ''Roquefort 'Société, the main company in Roquefort.
    But Roquefort cheese was well known much earlier. The Romans bought it (not sure). Charlemagne had every year Roquefort brought to him in his palace of Aachen. In 1666, the Toulouse parliament established several laws the defined the use of the name Roquefort. In 1925 a law established definitely the definition of the Roquefort cheese and it's protection against copies.

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    On top of the city

    by JLBG Updated Nov 16, 2004

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    Roquefort Société headquarters are at the upper extremity of the city. It is a long and steep way walking up there, but it is worth it ! There is a small parking lot close to their building but it is easily full up. If you want to avoid the long walk, you might try to park there, but do not forget that you have only a little chance to get a free space.

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    Roquefort Société, largest company

    by JLBG Updated Nov 16, 2004

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    Roquefort Société is the largest company and the only one among the 16 Roquefort companies that sells abroad. They organize a very interesting visit (2.3 euros) but no photos can be taken. Don't forget that the temperature is always under 8°C in the caves.

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    Narrow streets, no, narrow street !

    by JLBG Updated Nov 16, 2004

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    The city is hilly, clung to the feet of the cliff. As space is limited, the streets are narrow and often, there is not enough space to have a pedestrian sidewalk. Be cautious, trucks of the “Roquefort Société” caves are busy and drive fast ! BTW, there is only one street !

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    Walk up

    by JLBG Updated Nov 16, 2004

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    Once you have parked your car out of the city (see travel tip), you have to walk up steep mountain streets.
    Great panels advertising for visiting the caves are everywhere. It would be difficult to miss a visit !

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    The final traditionnal product

    by JLBG Updated May 30, 2004

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    Generally they Roquefort are not sold as 2.5 kg pieces. They can be cut by the middle of the height (10 cm high) giving 1.250 kg ''half cheese'' or cut a second time following a diameter, giving 625 g ''quarter cheese''. Then the tin foils (which are reused for next cheese) are replaced by an aluminum foil with the name of the company, ready for sale.
    At Papillon's, the black one is the strongest, with more flavour. The red is smoother and the white one is organic and sold in organic food shops.
    Ewe give milk only from January to July while Roquefort is sold all year long. Wrapping of the matured Roquefort cheese in these tin foils allows to adjust production and sale.

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    Bread for the Penicillium roqueforti

    by JLBG Updated May 30, 2004

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    The Papillon company processes it's Roquefort the traditionnal way. The day fresh ewe milk is made curdled. After a few hours, it is drained. After draining, it is spread with some of the powder shawn in the flask on the right of the picture.
    This powder is prepared in the following way. A few bowls of rye bread are prepared and cooked at very high temperature until the crust is well overdone and nearly burned, while the inside is still uncooked and very wet. These bowls are deposited in the caves. The air brings some spores of the fungus Penicillium roqueforti on the surface of the bread which is an excellent medium for cultivation (see : legend of the Roquefort); Soon, the bread is invaded by Penicillium and is completely blue. After some month, the breads are collected, dried, grind and give what is shawn in the flask. One gram of this green-blue powder contains 25 billions of spores and is enough to inoculate several hundreds liters of curd.
    Once the powder is spread on the curd, it is mixed and deposited in moulds 20 cm diameter and 10 cm high and will give a 2.5 kg white cheese. This part of the process is not done in Roquefort but close to the milking area, in the allowed perimeter. At this point only, the cheeses are brought to the Roquefort caves for maturing.

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