Continuing on from other great French terms and business names that don’t translate well in English, such as Milk et Bousse (manure) dairy farm, Shag Café and Lad’s (sic) Services of La Clusaz, pictured is Le Farto fromagerie in Thônes.
Okay, now that you’ve stopped sniggering about a food producer being called ‘Le Farto‘…no, you haven’t stopped yet, have you. I’ll wait patiently: you’re not the first. Visiting friends have insisted I stop so they have proof that this place exists, yet I only got around to taking this photo at the end of summer this year.
Of all the cheese-making establishments in this area, Le Farto stands above the rest — and I’m no longer referring to its name. First of all, outside is a milk vending machine (just like to this one) where you can fill your own bottles with fresh milk (buy them from the machine if you don’t have any). This is as good as 24-hour shopping gets in Haute Savoie.
Le Farto also has a viewing area, where you can watch the cheese makers do their thing. Pictured is the process for making Raclette cheese up to the point of getting the cheese into moulds. The next day, the cheese is left in salty water for 12 hours, then placed in a cave to ripen for twelve weeks, turned three times per week for the first three weeks, then less after that.
None of these steps can be viewed from the viewing area, but I learnt all these facts while there. How? Beneath the viewing windows are a series of plaques with information about the cheese-making process (in French).
The cheese making begins at 9am most days, and only takes around half an hour. If you go on a day when a busload of tourists arrive, you can also enjoy free cheese samples left on the tables for them (hey, I thought they were for everyone until the staff glared at me, guilting me into buying more cheese than I needed).
In case you’re wondering what the red paper stamp on the cheese means, it indicates that the cheese was made at a co-op, where the milk from different farms is mixed together. Cheese with a green label indicates it’s made on the farm, using just the milk from that particular farm’s cows. Green is supposed to be best, but I challenge anyone who doesn’t taste cheese for a living to really tell the difference.