The dairy at Riblaire was founded in 1893 by Clément Vivon and Paul Réau. The quality of the butter which it produced helped to ensure its successful establishment, and later, in 1911, Réau added a cheesery and at the start of World War I he began making Riblaire cheese. In the thirties the cheesery was further developed and the dairy became one of the most important privately owned makers of both cow and goat cheese in that part of France. However, in the sixties the company was sold to a large group which closed some other cheeseries and further extended the facilities at Riblaire to assimilate their production. Riblaire also began producing a type of feta, it stopped producing cows’ milk cheese and began specialising in earnest on goats’ cheeses.
So what is the Riblaire St Varent like? It has a twangy, piquant tang. It has a white, fluffy, slightly nutty rind which you can eat. You can feel saintly as you do so as, relatively-speaking for a cheese, it’s low-fat (25%).
As my son, an enthusiastic cheese-lover but essentially a traditionalist, exclaimed, surprised “Ah! This is really quite nice…”
Eat it with something sweet like chutney (especially kumquat, date and cranberry chutney, or pineapple chutney). It’s good with figs… very good with oatcakes. Or try halving a small aubergine, brushing it with olive oil and roasting in a hot oven for about twenty minutes. Spread over some smoked salt, some sun-dried tomato paste and a slice of Riblaire. Roast for a further eight minutes. Then sprinkle over some pine nuts, some chopped fresh rosemary and some Spanish sweet smoked paprika. Cook for another couple of minutes to toast the pine nuts, and serve.