I have recently returned from a trip to the South of France. Another way to say it would be, I have recently returned from a week splurging on delicacies like foie gras, lamb, duck, tapenade, crepes, pain au chocolat, crème brulee…..I could go on and on but will just say “etc.” I’m in need of a fat detox program now but the experience was well worth every ounce of fat gained!
As most people know, France is known for their many decadent foods, but the one that stood out to me this trip is the goat cheese, Chevre. Chevre in French literally means “goat.” I’ve had plenty of goat cheeses, but none like these. They were the freshest I’ve ever tasted – soft, delicate and possessing the distinct talent of being tangy and subtle simultaneously. A few were topped with “savory” – an herb mixture that tastes like thyme with a pinch of rosemary and a teeny bit of sage. Frequently, it was served with fresh baguette, something the French have perfected more than anyone else. Many times during the week, my lunch obsession was mesculin beautifully presented with a lightly herb-breaded disk of warm Chevre looking up at me from the center of the salad and oozing out seductively when cut open.
Chevre comes in many shapes – logs, disks, cones and even pyramids. It is often topped with herbs, ash, pepper or leaves. Some of the most famous Chevre comes from along the banks of the Loire River. Traditionally, the cheese is handmade on farms with small goat herds where the land is lush and the climate moderate.
There are soft, young forms or hard, aged forms of Chevre. The soft, young variety reminds me of a texture somewhere between cream cheese and Feta. It is mild and creamy making it ideal for melting on fancy gourmet pizzas. It is also good in sandwiches, breaded for an upscale salad or appetizer, or simply served on a cheese platter with crackers or baguette. The hard, aged variety is dry and firm. It is slightly sharp and acidic. Some say it tastes similar to Gouda. Whatever the case, it is a lovely addition to sandwiches, pastas and cheese platters.
If all this talk of Chevre is making your mouth water, I encourage you to explore the world of artisan cheese and hunt down a log, disk, cone or pyramid. And let me encourage you to wash it down with a white wine from the Loire region, a Sancerre perhaps. By the way, many U.S. goat dairies produce some pretty darn good versions that can stand up quite well to the French…..just don’t tell them that I said that.
Another link for buying Chevre