A neglected batch of Munster left to ripen in farm’s cellar becomes post-confinement sensation in France

Most of us have emerged from lockdown with unkempt hair, a newfound predilection for loungewear and, at the very best, mediocre knowledge of sourdough starters.

But a couple in France have emerged with a brand new cheese – entirely by accident.

Lionel and Laura Vaxelaire tend a herd of 25 Vosgienne cattle at Au Petit Gravier, their farm in Saulxures-sur-Moselotte in the Vosges département.

Their new cheese, which they have christened Le Confiné, was originally destined to become Munster and was duly placed in the couple’s cellar to ripen in the middle of March.

The challenges of lockdown meant Lionel and Laura were left with around 60 cheeses and nowhere to sell them – so they left them to their own devices in the cellar and when they checked on them four weeks later, they found the batch had matured into something rather delicious.

“It’s chalky in the centre and more refined towards the rind, a bit like Munster,” Laura told regional newspaper Vosges Matin. “Its flowery rind is white and a little speckled. Even our children appreciated it and since this cheese has endured isolation like us, its name was a given.”

And it has already proven popular with the locals – one said it would be great with a glass of wine with friends of an evening while another, with a slightly more adventurous palate, suggested it would be perfect dipped in chocolate for breakfast!

Le Confiné can be bought direct from the farm or at local markets, and another batch is currently self-isolating in the farm’s cellar.

Learn all about life on the farm and meet the cows – and their adorable newborn calves! – at facebook.com/AuPetitGravier

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