Tell me if this is true for you. Every time you go on holiday you think about ways you could live there. You know what I mean – holidays are wonderful, so much so that you imagine staying forever. You keep an eye out for things you could do. A business you could start, a job you might be qualified to do. Whether it’s sunshine or snow slopes, don’t you always wonder how you could stay there forever? If you are more mature, you’re thinking about retirement. But, for the rest of us, we’re on the lookout for a way to get to our own personal paradise and make a living. True or not?
And this was exactly what happened to Pascal Silvestre. Pascal is French. And he’d been coming to Samui on holiday over an eight-year period – he’d fallen in love with the island. Pascal was born in Tours, and had settled into a specialised occupation, working in a factory that made machinery and equipment for making cheese – he actually worked at this for 27 years. Today, this has all become a very specialised and controlled science, and a long way from the olden days when it was all a bit of an interesting adventure, and great fun seeing if everything came out as you expected – or not!
Now you need to measure precise amounts, be able to control the temperature and acidy of the ingredients used, the times of the various processes, and be able to measure and adjust each or all of these things to produce consistently repeatable results. Cheese making has become something of a speciality, governed by a precisely sterile working environment and a whole bunch of international standards, not to mention laws related to hygiene. And so it’s not surprising that specialised cheese-making equipment has been developed to conform to all these requirements. And Pascal made equipment for the making of cheese.
It didn’t take more than a few visits to Samui to realise that there was no cheese being made here. Yes, you could buy all manner of imported cheeses from the specialist importers. But these were all mass-produced and not freshly-made, and were full of additives and chemicals that gave them long shelf lives. But all these additives also took away the essential nature of cheese – to be able to freely mature over a period of weeks and change their condition at each of the stages of maturing.
To sum it all up: there were now so many gourmet restaurants on the island that real, fresh, specialist cheese must be in great demand. But all that was available were these sanitised sealed packs of ‘plastic’ cheese with an impressive name on the label. Surely there was a need for real, gourmet, freshly-made cheese? And, it turned out, yes, there was.
And so Pascal started to spend all his spare time with a friend who made cheese for a hobby, then went to college to study everything more-in depth. And he finally took the plunge and moved over here full time, with his wife, Sandrine, in the early part of 2014. It took a while to find the right premises, then more time to get everything up and running. Thus Authentic Cheese Samui didn’t really get off the ground until December 2014.
Today he deals mainly with the big hotels and their restaurants. He has his shop right out on the main ring-road, just where the hill from Lamai to Chaweng begins, across the road from ‘First Lucky Travel’. But he’s delighted to see ordinary folks coming in to buy just the odd cheese or two. He has a moderate assortment of both goat and cow cheese in his shop, but is happy to take orders as long as the amount you want is justified, or if you don’t mind waiting a while until there’s an order for a batch of it.
And I have to say that the logs of goat’s Bûche Blanche et Cendrée (dusted with a flour or food ash crust) are out of this world. Likewise, the more usual varieties of fresh cow’s Camembert or Brie. Not to mention the wonderful assortments of Fondants Frais (which can be made to order), sprinkled with pepper, garlic, smoked grape, almonds, chilli . . . whatever you want!
All you have to do is to drop in and visit Pascal. At which point you’ll discover that every one of his cheeses pleases more than you can imagine!
Rob De Wet
For more information, telephone 0 848 405 869.
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