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.


Patrick said...

I'm loving all this cheese learning! How'd you pick up so much information about all of this?

More specifically, does the picodon hit a certain breaking point, where it's been aged too long?

There's a newish restaurant in Laguna called Sapphire that has a wonderful (and large) cheese pantry. We'll have to go down there when you get back.

Alison said...

By the way, Dave and I tried the picodon that had been sitting in olive oil and herbs since November. It was delicious! It looked a little funky because the olive oil had solidified a bit on the top of the jar, but it didn't change the flavor.

We ate little slices of the cheese on baguette (it was even better when toasted) as we sipped some red wine. The olive oil and herbs added so much wonderful flavor to the cheese. I suggest that everyone try this at home with some fresh chevre (even a log of it would work), olive oil, and Herbes de Provence.

When Aida, William, and Charlotte visit us this month, we'll have to share it with them. I just hope we have enough self control now that we know how amazing it is.

I am completely indebted to Joelle Thierry for this recipe and the big jar of wonderful cheese!