WHAT IS NEUFCHATEL?
A soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese from Normandy, Neufchatel is a fun cheese that is over 1,000 years old. But honestly, cheese has taken great leaps since the early middle ages. Neufchatel doesn’t rank up there with the top 10 “Great” fromages. Ironically Philadelphia cream cheese was invented as a failed attempt to make neufchatel. Unlike that fromage, cream cheese has cream added to the milk during production giving it a higher fat content. So neufchatel is not a low-fat cream cheese. But it is similar enough to cause some confusion where some stores even market it as such. It is a mild, kid-friendly table cheese that could be used for breakfast dishes.
WHERE IS NEUFCHATEL MADE?
Originally made in Normandy in the village of Neufchâtel-en-Bray. Today the A.O.P. version is still made up north, but non-A.O.P. or more industrial versions can be found elsewhere.
FRENCH WOMEN SEDUCED BRITISH MEN ONLY TO LOOSE THEM TO CHEDDAR?
Supposedly French women who fell in love with English soldiers in the 1300’s made heart shaped versions to send to them. If only these poor ladies had known to do this with cheddar, Normandy today might instead be called New Brittany.
WHAT CAN I PAIR WITH NEUFCHATEL?
In terms of drinks champagne is always a safe bet as are most whites, reds or even ports or whiskey. If you really want to use this fromage on a French cheese plate, go with some character and add a Roquefort, Epoisse or Reblochon to balance out the mildness of flavor. Or have some fun and cut this cheese (parallel to the table) in half like a sandwich. Spread some marscapone and fig jam on top of the bottom half, and replace the top half of your Neufchatel. Voila, you now have a fun cheese dessert! If you want to get real fancy, get a cookie mold (hearts, etc) and sprinkle some red or green herbs / spices in it to give the cheese a fun design on top.