My Love Affair with Goat Cheeses of France

Chabichou and Saint MaurePurrrr. That was my first response when a box of French goat cheeses arrived on my rowhouse stoop in Philadelphia. A pair of them, like a bride and groom. Soft, delicate. The scent of the French countryside still detectable on their rinds.

Yes, this post is going to get romantic. If you’re eating lunch at your desk, you may want to close the door. You see, I have spent the last week with this pair in a little threesome – picnicking, drinking cocktails on the sofa, making eyes at one another other over breakfast, sneaking into the kitchen at night for love bites. It’s not often that such perfectly ripe goat cheeses appear in one’s life.

And so Sainte-Maure de Touraine and Chabichou du Poitou seduced me. Utterly.

 

Cocktails with Chabichou du Poitou

Chabichou with Cocktails

Chabichou (pronounced like shabby shoe) hit the wet bar right away. The bottle of Chartreuse was in her hands before we were properly introduced. No surprise. Chabichou is one of France’s oldest and most honorable cheeses – likely developed by the Saracens in the 8th century A.D. It seemed fitting, then, that she reached for Chartreuse, a historically French liqueur created by Carthusian monks. With its many wild herbs, it’s a perfect match for goat cheese, especially in an afternoon sipper.

 

A Chartreuse Cocktail for Chabichou

  • 11/2 ounces genever (I used Boomsma)
  • 1/4 ounce green Chartreuse
  • 3 ounces tonic water
  • Cucumber slices and fresh mint, for garnish

Instructions: To prepare the cocktail, fill a rocks glass with ice. Add genever and tonic. Float the Chartreuse on top, then garnish with abandon. Serve with crudité, almonds, olives, fruit.

Note: Genever, a precursor to gin, has malty notes – perfect for underscoring the nutty, yeasty flavors in Chabichou.

 

Chabichou with Cocktails 2

From my Tasting Notebook: Chabichou du Poitou

Appearance: imagine a mochi ball cheesecake

Aroma: yogurt, bread, wet hay

Taste/Texture: I love how the fudgy middle yields to a cream line just below the rind, which is veil thin. As the cheese relaxes, the cream line melts, weeps a little. Ah! I taste a rush of damp hay, butter, yeast, black pepper on the finish. It’s like taking a rainy fall walk in the country while eating a butter sandwich.

Pairing Ideas: Cucumber, mint, and marcona almonds. Honey and Dates. Crumbled atop sautéed cabbage or greens. Woven into scrambled eggs. Needs a crisp white wine (Sancerre).

~

A Salad with Sainte-Maure de Touraine

Sainte Maure was soft-spoken, more fragile. He reclined on the couch in his gray fur coat and murmured in his sleep about a salad. “Pistachios,” he whispered, his whiskers twitching. “Apples, grapes.”

I darted into the kitchen and rummaged for my mandoline. A cheese so delicate requires a salad of thin shavings, I think. I am in a phase of shaving everything (now, don’t take that the wrong way). Using a mandoline, I shredded cucumbers and apples, a few green onions, and then I tossed these with greens and some lemon. Nothing more.

 

Saint Maure Salad

Instead of adding pistachios on top, I climbed into the fridge to root out a jar of pistachio butter for smearing under the salad. The inspiration came from a salad I once ate that was served on a swirl of homemade pistachio butter — I love the memory of the fork tines catching on a little bit of that cream as I swept up each bite of salad.

 

Sainte-Maure de Touraine Salad with Apples and Pistachio Butter

(for two)

  • 1/2 green apple, cored, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 handfuls of mixed greens
  • half a lemon
  • sea salt
  • dill and mint, for garnish
  • handfuls of grapes
  • 4 tablespoons pistachio butter (see note)

Instructions: Toss apple slices, celery, green onion, and greens in a bowl with lemon and sea salt. Mix with your hands. Serve on a plate you have prepared with a good shmear of pistachio butter. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and grapes.

Note: You can buy prepared pistachio butter, which I used initially. Then I tried making my own using a recipe from Coffee and Quinoa. All you have to do is combine a cup of pistachios with honey in a food processor – add some coconut oil along the way to smooth things out. The results are delicious, but I didn’t achieve quite the same ultra creamy consistency I yearned for. Just sayin’.

 

Homemade pistachio butter

Homemade pistachio butter

From my Tasting Notebook: Sainte-Maure de Touraine

Appearance: looks like a silver log under snowfall

Aroma: lemon, wet grass

Taste/Texture: Supple and creamy. The rind is like damp crepe paper. The flavors are delicate – like eating a cheese made of rain. Or baby tears.

Pairing ideas: Blackberry or blueberry jam, oaty crackers. A light jelly – like rose petal or Champagne.

Saint Maure

Curious to check out Chabichou and Sainte-Maure? My samples were provided by The Original Chèvre, the first U.S. campaign to highlight the origins of goat cheese (that would be the French countryside!). Better yet, travel to France and look for them. Chabichou comes from the limestone plateau of the Haut Poitou; Sainte-Maure is made around Saint Maure in the Touraine and Poitou regions. Here’s a cheese map.

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CHEESE GIVEAWAY!

Want to receive a basket of French cheeses of your very own? Drop a comment describing a recipe or pairing you’d like to create with goat cheese. A winner will be selected on Tuesday, September 22 at noon EST. Note: This giveaway is now closed — the winner was randomly selected, Gwen W.

Chabichou in Action 2

Full disclosure: This post is part of a promotion with Goat Cheeses of France and Culture Magazine. I received cheese samples and payment for writing about these dairy dreams.

 

 

 

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Comments
21 Responses to “My Love Affair with Goat Cheeses of France”
  1. mike says:

    “is it hot in here?”

  2. Lorri says:

    I am ready to board a plane to France after reading this post! Lovely! Right now I would love a goat cheese with figs and a nice, crisp cool Pinot Grigio!

  3. Alex says:

    Rrrowr! I’ve been all about shrubs this summer. I think the favorite (and most subtle) recipe I made this season, yellow watermelon-opal basil shrub, could be a lovely match for a delicate, citrus-kissed cheese like Saint Maure. Serve it virgin with freshly cracked seltzer, or add a splash of vodka for a light yet fruit-forward cocktail. One could experiment with gin to add a little more complexity — I imagine that would also bring out the refreshing cucumber-y quality in the watermelon.

  4. Chelsea says:

    Oh, those cream lines – be still my beating heart! I would love to spread these on very thin ginger cookies, perhaps with a couple of drops of maple syrup and enjoy with a glass of dry cider.

  5. Patrick says:

    On Russian whole grain crackers.

  6. Megan says:

    Savory pies with a big slab of goat cheese right in the middle. Oh how I miss good French cheese! I can smell the fromageries right now…

  7. Anna says:

    I don’t think these cheeses need much! Maybe a little olive oil or dark honey, a few wisps of fresh herbs…and perhaps something bubbly to drink.

  8. Gwen says:

    I’d like to make tapas with goat cheese and a thin sliver of duck breast on a puff pastry bed. Maybe a sprinkle of fresh thyme. Paired with a glass of homebrewed dry mead (local PA honey). Cheers!

  9. Casey Setash says:

    One of my favorite recipes that utilizes goat cheese is a savory butternut squash tart using ground beef, squash, crumbled chevre, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper blended in with a couple of eggs and a little bit of cream and baked in a pie crust. Just something I came up with when I had an abundance of squash and it’s now one of my favorite fall dishes.

  10. Erika Kubick says:

    What wouldn’t I do with goat cheese? I will make apple prosecco jam, spiced & candied nuts, and perfect manhattans with a mix of dry vermouth and grand marnier. For the ash-ripened angel, I’ll pair toasted cranberry bread and a rich rosé, gin cocktail.

  11. Howard Dinin says:

    Greetings Tenaya… I have an even better idea. Why don’t you join us sometime in our village in the Haut Var, and we’ll introduce you to every fromagerie in the vicinity, of which every village, including ours, has at least one. Although I could go on at length extolling the virtues of a ripened cylinder of virtually any of the local chevres, there is something to be said for chevre so fresh that more than a week ago it was still in the goat, so to speak. In the Var, they like to sell the chevre frais well garnished with several different favorites, like cracked black peppercorns, the local thyme, minced shallots, etc. The French custom being to serve the cheese course at the end of the meal, what I’ve come to prefer is a selection of variously aged local chevre—ranging from frais to demi-sec (my personal favorite) to sec (which is about the only condition in which local, i.e., Pennsylvania, cheesemongers can supply it)—along with a marc de bourgogne or marc de provence (harder to come by), a magnificant digestif. And, keeping it local and simple, a fresh baguette from the local boulangerie. The baguette is, of course, traditional, and makes it a kind of round trip, as we collect our pain perdu, mostly baguette ends, and bring them to The Goat Lady, our favorite fromagère at the Aups marché for the goats… And to round out the notion of produits de pays: chestnuts, roasted, and figs, of which there are trees overhanging the lanes just steps from our door… Really, drop by.

  12. Sarah says:

    I recently discovered your blog and as a Philadelphia suburb turophile, I just had to follow you!
    This looks and sounds delightful. I would try pairing these delicious goats with Raincoast Crisp fig & olive crackers and a chilled glass of Lindeman’s Cassis Lambic, a slightly tart and effervescent elderberry beer. Yum!

  13. Amanda says:

    I love this post so much! It combines my deep and abiding love for French goat cheese with my appreciation for all things Madame Fromage.

    For my pairing: I’m thinking avocado with a dollop of chabichou minced sauerkraut and mediterranean herbs with a hearty drizzle of good olive oil. And a glass of champagne, of course. Maybe some billecart-salmon if I’m feeling fancy.

  14. Lee says:

    I’m guilty of treating goat cheese like dessert. Right now I could really go for a pasty goat cheese paired with a balsamic cherry compote and a glass of prosecco on the side. The cheese dreams are made of!

  15. Hannah P. says:

    Oh boy, this opens the door to so many possibilities. But, I’m a simple lady and love to make whipped goat cheese dips especially this time of the year. I’d mix them up with candied nuts, fresh and local red apples, a little bit of whipping cream or creme fraiche and then eat with effie’s oat cakes. To finish off the pairing, I’d need a few fantastic cheese loving friends to snack with. Delish.

  16. Steph says:

    A salad with goat cheese, pears, honey, buttered pine nuts, escarole sounds delicious to me!!

  17. Lakisha says:

    I love this post! I miss your face!

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