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Shaking Up Chèvre: Chabichou du Poitou & Sainte-Maure de Touraine


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Welcome to Shaking Up Chèvre, a six-part collaboration between Goat Cheeses of France—the official US campaign for spreading the word on the tasty goodness of French chèvre— culture, and some amazing food bloggers. Our mission? To hand down tips and tricks on how to cook with and pair French goat’s milk cheeses! In this post, renowned cheese writer Tenaya Darlington a.k.a. Madame Fromage spends some quality time with Chabichou du Poitou and Sainte-Maure de Touraine. Missed Thursday’s post on Le Chevrot & Chèvre d’Argental? Take a look-see.


Purrrr. 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 was 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 each 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 Chabichou du Poitou and Sainte-Maure de Touraine seduced me. Utterly.

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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—allegedly 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.

Chartreuse Cocktails for Chabichou

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

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces genever (I used Boomsma)
  • ¼ 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. Float the Chartreuse on top, then garnish with abandon. Serve with crudités, almonds, olives, fruit.

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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 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).


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.

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Instead of adding pistachios on top, I climbed into the fridge to root out a jar of pistachio butter. 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

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’.

Ingredients

  • ½ green apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 handfuls of mixed greens
  • half a lemon
  • sea salt,/li>
  • dill and mint, for garnish
  • handfuls of grapes
  • 4 tablespoons pistachio butter

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.

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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.

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Curious to check out Chabichou du Poitou and Sainte-Maure de Touraine? My samples were provided by The Original Chèvre, the first US 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 Sainte-Maure in the Touraine and Poitou regions. Here’s a cheese map.


Tummy rumbling over these beautiful French goat cheeses? We got the answer to your culinary prayers! Visit Madame Fromage and enter a contest sponsored by Goat Cheeses of France—you could win an exclusive package of five French goat cheeses, a collection of tried-and-true recipes, trivia cards, and temporary tattoos to show your Original Chèvre love. Check it out!

Tenaya Darlington

Tenaya Darlington teaches food writing at Saint Joseph’s University. She blogs at www.madamefromageblog.com and co-hosts tours with Cheese Journeys. While writing this post, she nursed a gin martini and nibbled a hunk of Pecorino Ginepro.

Goat Cheeses of France

Goat Cheeses of France is the official US campaign for spreading the word on the over 3,000 goat cheese producers and about 60 dairy companies responsible for the exceptional quality, shapes, textures, and tastes of the Original Chèvre.