Posts Tagged ‘Karin Lawler’

Spring Cheeses From Southwest France

May 3, 2010

By Rob Lawler — Denver Truffle

“Reprinted from Indulge in Denver magazine, April 2010 issue”

France’s Southwest is a virtual Disneyland of incredible foods.  One of our favorites at the Truffle Cheese Shop is their tangy goat’s milk cheeses.  They produce a cornucopia of different sizes, shapes and colors; we think it’s best to enjoy them all! 

Similar to produce, cheese has a distinct season.    The early spring is when young, fresh cheeses like these just staring to really shine.  We think this time of year is a perfect  time to explore the gastronomy of this corner of the world.

Goats were brought to this part of France by the Saracens of North Africa in the middle of the last millennia.  Over hundreds of years the cheese making techniques they brought have been refined and improved.   Goats thrive on the verdant plants that grow well in the Loire Valley’s limestone soil, and aging caves dug into the rock stay humid and well ventilated, which is perfect for ripening cheese.  Each town in this part of France has its own particular variety of cheese with a very specific form and flavor, most of which have evolved alongside their local wine.  

Valençay (vah-lohn-SAY)  Local legend links the unusual shape of this cheese to the visit by Emperor Napoleon to the Chateau Valençay shortly after his retreat from Egypt.  The story says that a banquet table held a display of pyramid shaped goat cheeses, which Napoleon attacked with his saber.  In one swift blow, he neatly sliced the tops off of the cheeses and created the shape which has defined this cheese ever since.    The rind of this cheese is dusted in ashes soon after being formed.  This dusting and the subsequent molding that appears as this cheese ages may make it appear intimidating, but the taste is quite lovely.   If you can track down a sparking Vouvray, that would be a great match or another sparking white wine would be nice also. 

Buche de Poitou (boo-SH day pwah-TOO) Bloomy rinds are more familiar when they are seen on a Brie or Camembert.  This one is made with goat’s milk and in a different shape.  The log shape of this cheese from Poitou-Charentes is very attractive when used as a part of a cheese board.  The flavor of the cheese is fairly mild when it is young and it intensifies as it ages.  The tangy creamy nature of this cheese balances great with a whole grain cracker or bread.  Enjoy it with any of the Sauvignon Blanc based wines from the Loire Valley, like a Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume)

Cabecou Feuille ( kah-bay-coo FAIEY)  This little cheese is a whole lot of flavor wrapped in a small package.  When the cheese is just formed and still warm, it is sprinkled with cracked pepper then carefully wrapped in a chestnut leaf which has been softened in a plum brandy.  These little buttons are only an ounce each, but they are so flavorful they need a wine with a little bit of tannins.  A rose from the area surrounding Bergerac would be a lovely match.

Tome de Chevre (TOHM day shev-RUH)   This goat cheese is a little more aged and so may be enjoyed later into the fall than many of the younger ones.  The shape of this cheese lends itself to a longer aging. It is about a five pound round, where most of these others are only few ounces.  As this cheese ages, it becomes drier and more crumbly in texture and it gains more of a rich and stronger flavor.  This stronger cheese can hold up to a stronger wine, like a red from the Langudoc.

Tome d’Acquitaine (TOME duh ah-qwah-TANE) The Acquitaine region of France, which surrounds the cities of Bordeaux and Sauternes is home to this cheese.  Though both towns are famous for their wines, the Sauternes is the one used in making this cheese.  It’s a sweet wine, that when washed on the outside of the cheese, gives it a subtle honey flavor.   This cheese is a lovely pale white color from the goat’s milk and its flavor is floral and wonderfully complex.  A wine from the Sauternes would really make this cheese shine.

For more information on Denver’s Truffle Cheese Shop:

Phone: 303.322.7363

Fax: 303.316.7529

The Truffle Cheese Shop

2906 East 6th Avenue

Denver, CO 80202