Friday, March 14, 2008

Chevre IV: Banon de Provence

"Banon de Provence was already being celebrated in the era of the Gallo-Romans by Emperor Antonin Le Pieux, who claimed he would eat this cheese until the day he dies." -Jean-Louis aux Chataigniers (translated from French)

I hereby present to you another scrumpdiddlyumptious goat cheese, except this one is wrapped in mystery...

My research on this cheese has been a slightly difficult process. My first hurdle was the name of the cheese! The sticker that came on ours said "Cavet" which is not the name of the cheese, but is actually the name of the farm where this one was made. Banon de Provence, as I soon learned to be its name, comes from Provence in the southeast of France. Ours came from a little town within Provence called Dieulefit.

Banon de Provence is made from unpasteurized goats milk, then wrapped in chestnut leaves and tied with raffia. Here is where the real mystery bubbles up to the surface; some sources claim that the little cheese package is dipped into white wine, while others say brandy. One website mentioned that it's soaked in sarriette, or savory. I don't actually know which ours was soaked in, but I'm going to guess it was white wine. It didn't hint at the flavor of brandy, nor did it remind me of thyme, which is a close equivalent to savory.

This chevre was still soft on the inside, though it was slightly aged. At first, I thought it had a bitter aftertaste, but I no longer noticed this flavor as I continued to eat it with toasted baguette. It is a little more tart than the other goat cheeses we've tried, but still has a subtle chevre flavor. I really enjoyed this cheese and especially liked the novelty of it being wrapped in a chestnut leaf. How French!!

We can supposedly order this cheese online, but on one site they claim Banon de Provence is made from cow's milk. I hope this doesn't prove to be a problem when I get home- that they aren't using the right kind of milk to make the cheese! It's tough enough that the cheeses available in the USA are all made from pasteurized milk. I suspect this specific cheese might be difficult to find at home. Is it safe to trust cheese that's delivered through the mail??

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