Cambodia & Cheese: ‘’Le Monde est Bleu’’, a reality at the Topaz restaurant

This month, cheese-maker Nicolas Rousseau pulled off a technical feat with the teams at Topaz Norodom: the production from start to finish of a Bleu cheese with a creamy texture and perfectly mastered taste.

Bleu cheese made in Cambodia

The workshop allowed the apprentice cheese-makers to discover all the steps involved in making this cheese, which is extremely popular in France and Europe. With the precious help of the talented and energetic Nicolas and the devotion of Topaz teams, this very French and unique cheese will soon be available in Khéma and Topaz outlets. 

Origin of Bleu

There are several versions of the origin of this cheese, but one story is that it was born in the 19th century from the passion of a farmer in Clermont-Ferrand who set about seeding rye bread with blue mold. Others say this cheese was ‘discovered’ by a shepherd who forgot his meal in a cave while courting a beautiful young girl. When he returned, his bread and cheese had gone moldy. But it was when he tasted them that he discovered blue cheese… 

Stages of production in Topaz 

D-Day: The cooled raw milk from the morning milking is received and brought to the right temperature. It is then matured (32–35°C) with a cocktail of specific ferments, including the famous mold Penicillium roqueforti. Then, the team will add rennet and curdle the milk by using a curd cutter and gentle intermittent stirring to achieve a delicate curd. 

Cheese-maker Nicolas Rousseau (right) with apprentice cheese-makers for Topaz

Cheese makers will then mould the curd in bottomless moulds to extract the whey, or drain it. Then, they will turn the moulds over during the day to facilitate draining.
On day D+1, the team will check the core temperature of the cheeses and their pH, remove the cheeses from the moulds and salt the cheeses with Kampot flower salt.
Then the maturing process begins and it’s quite technical. This takes place in two stages: maturing at 9 – 11°C in a very humid environment, during which there are two ‘pricking’. These pricking are essential for supplying the aerobic Penicillium roqueforti mold with oxygen. 

After four weeks, when the blue mold has developed well inside the cheese (coring test with a probe), the cheese is wrapped with aluminium to slow down the development of the mould (no more O2). 

The cheese is then chilled to 4–6°C for a minimum of two weeks to accentuate the proteolysis of the cheese. This process involves the natural enzymes ‘cutting’ the proteins, resulting in an increasingly creamy product. In summary, it will take six weeks to produce the blue cheese. Four weeks will be spent at cellar temperature, and two weeks at a lower temperature. 

Yield 

The final yield is around 12 to 13%. One hundred litres of milk will yield 12 to 13 kg of creamy-blue cheese. This means that you will need around 8 litres of milk to make 1 kg of creamy-blue cheese. The milk used is whole, so the original cream content is retained. This is important because it is not always the case in all cheese dairies. Bleu belongs to the family of uncooked soft cheeses with internal mold. It is undoubtedly one of the most technically challenging artisanal cheeses to produce. You’ll be able to find it soon at Khéma and Topaz restaurants!  

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Authors: Julia Pasquier-Desvignes and Nicolas Rousseau 

 

 

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