Made in the Loire region of France, the prime area for French goats’ cheese production, Bonde de Gâtine is a small drum of goat’s cheese whose origins lie in the Middle Ages. It’s documented that the area first became known for its goat cheeses with the arrival of the invading Saracen armies who brought with them everything from soldiers to livestock and, thankfully, their cheesemaking recipes. When they retreated, they left everything behind and their goats quickly adapted to their new environment and thrived on the rich, well-watered pastures of the region. Sicne the area is so well suited to dairy goats, there are many varieties of goats cheese made, including Bonde de Gâtine. Although some versions of Bonde de Gâtine sold in Europe frequently have a fine ash-coated rind and are made from raw milk, those for the export market are frequently pasteurized and lack the asj coating, Cheeses come in a 4oz, 2inch high cylinder and, during aging, develop a deeply furrowed rind. Bonde de Gâtine is most commonly eaten at about three or four weeks of age, when the interior paste is fudge-like and flavors are slightly salty with herbal, grassy notes and a fresh, clean lactic finish. (Pictured on right in photo.) However, if desired, the cheeses can be matured sucessfully for several more weeks, producing a smooth, dense texture, suitable for eating or grating. These versions (pictured middle and left in photo) have a salty tang, rich cream-like flavors and a fresh acidity that partners perfectly with a Loire, Sauvignon Blanc-like Sancerre. It would make a fine goats’ cheese and asparagus tart.