Thursday, February 21, 2008

Update: Chevre Month

I didn't get to post more than my usual quota of 2 entries for this month, like I said I would. I know I still have time, but I'm going to Rome tomorrow, then Morocco for a week. I won't be back home until the beginning of March. I promise to bring you some very exciting tales of my adventures with cheese in Italy and Morocco when I return. And I will be extending Chevre Month through March. You have much to look forward to. Check back in 2 weeks!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chevre II: Selles-sur-Cher

"The rind is firm and smells like ash and animal, with a hint of cellar and earth." -Joanne's tasting notes on

Selles-sur-Cher goat cheese is the most delicious of its kind that I have ever had the great pleasure of tasting.

It is certainly on my top 5 list of best cheeses. I think Dave agrees with me on that. We picked this delicious devil out at Intermarche (supermarket) and we've been taking our sweet time with it, savoring each piece that we spread on little slices of pignette (better than a baguette).

It takes a bit of work to cut off the moldy charcoal rind, but the little square of firm, flaky, snow-white cheese is worth all the trouble. A little bit goes a long way, especially as it melts in your mouth and gives off its distinctive goaty-nutty-salty flavor. Our brick of Selles was aged, but when it is consumed earlier, the cheese is much softer and less intense. Of course, I didn't know this when we bought it, but I'm glad we tried the more aged version first. I wouldn't mind having a taste of the younger Selles, although I'm a bit afraid it won't be able to stand up to our first round with the cheese.

The cheese is made in the Loire Valley, the very center of France. The regulations surrounding the production of real Selles-sur-Cher are very strict, thus, it is not a common cheese at the market, especially outside of central France. I believe it is possible to find a version of this cheese in the USA that is made from pasteurized milk. But, as almost all French people are known to testify when faced with this change in tradition, it is not true Selles-sur-Cher chevre. Gotta take advantage while I still can... No question about it, we are absolutely going to be buying another brick of Selles-sur-Cher as soon as we return from our winter vacation. (I wonder what kinds of delicious cheeses we will stumble across in Rome, Marrakesh, and Essaouira...)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chevre I: Picodon

"During the maturing process, the rind of the cheese covers itself with blue and white mold. This delicate and supple cheese can become crumbly after a prolonged maturing process. It can be eaten as a snack, in a sandwich, or cooked, grilled and left to soak in white wine, brandy, or even olive oil." -Cheese Online

Check out this website, which shows us how Picodon is produced.

The photo and quote found above easily summarize our experience with this cheese. The Thierrys introduced us to this cheese in Lyon last November. Picodon comes from the Rhone-Alpes region (where Lyon resides) and is usually produced during the autumn months, which explains why we haven't found it in Mont de Marsan. Thankfully, Joelle fixed up a jar of picodon, olive oil, and spices for us to take home. We have let it sleep for almost three months, but it won't be able to rest for much longer. My mom is visiting us next week, and she would probably enjoy a taste of our special French cheese. Of course, we'll open it up in a couple days and make sure it is as good as we've been promised.

That is just one way to enjoy picodon cheese. While in Lyon, we had the opportunity to try picodon at its different aging processes. It is a very delicate cheese, but it certainly delivers the characteristic chevre taste. While white and young, it is soft and spreadable. Anyone can appreciate its flavor and accessibility. As the picodon ages, it grays and grows scary-looking mold all over its rind. Its inner character also changes from soft to hard, so that it breaks apart when you cut into it. It becomes difficult to spread and even more difficult to keep from tumbling off a little piece of baguette. Despite this odd and sometimes frustrating transformation, the picodon's flavor is more pronounced and savory than ever before. It isn't very strong, though it has quite a different taste compared to that of the young picodon. No matter what, deciding on the best stage at which to eat picodon is up to your cravings. Remember, if you are in the middle of autumn, you can just go back to the cheese man for more. The most sure way is just to move to Lyon.

Unfortunately, I don't know if this cheese is available in the USA. As in past posts, my suggestion is to check the specialty stores, such as Trader Joe's, Bristol Farms, etc. There are some websites that offer delivery of picodon cheese, which I might have to try when I return. Of course, I will wait to place that order until the autumn.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I have been reviewing my past posts and I realized that I haven't written about la fromage de chevre yet!! How could I be so neglectful? We have been consuming goat cheese since we landed on this continent and I hadn't even considered writing about it until now. I apologize...

Thus, I declare this the month of CHEVRE! All my posts will be about chevre cheese. Though I usually keep the number of cheese reviews to two per month, I might make a slight exception to help reconcile my complete disregard of a very important feature in my Penicillin-consuming, French life.

(A more personal note: I wish eating moldy cheese would immunize me against the moldy walls of my apartment. I am getting sick (horrible allergy infections) every 2-3 weeks. It's unbearable.)