Are goats chic if they are French? I’m not sure but I do know that they make some very tasty cheese.
A little aside: I should state right now that I have officially sold out. Yep, no more being able to ride a high horse and declare that ‘I don’t do reviews’. The lovely people at Mumsnet asked if I wanted to spend a few hours eating and cooking and then eating some more French goats cheese (‘chevre’ if you want to dazzle at dinner parties with your knowledge of all things goaty) and I could not say no. I now bow to those who have the willpower to turn down an opportunity to gorge themselves silly on cheese. In the middle of the day. Washed down with wine. Without children. I bow to thee superior beings.
This was the first time I’ve been to an event like this and, from speaking to the other people there, apparently the bar has now been set very high. There was a crazed buzz of excitement in the air when we arrived and saw this long table heaving with amazing looking cheese. All this cheese, for us? I nearly fainted.
We had one of these bad boys between 4 or 5 people to chow down on:
Yes, that’s right, we gorged ourselves silly on 11 types of goats cheese, all the while I was trying not to get too lost in the chevre to listen to the informational session from Charlie, the Chevre man in the know. Some facts managed to penetrate my mind:
- ‘Crottin’, the name for the little round one at the bottom left of the board, loosely translates as ‘poo’, so-named because of the shape. Lovely.
- There is an Ambassador for Goats Cheese. I’m not making this up. Someone actually has that job. Why did I not know about this and is it too late for me to consider a change of career, I wonder.
- The French take their chevre very seriously. The PDO (Product Designation of Origin) rules apply. You know the ones, like not being able to call anything ‘champagne’ except champagne that’s made in the Champagne region in France. Same rules apply to the goaty goodness. There are probably chevre police in operation too checking that everything is above board.
- On my Christmas wish list is now one of these babies to store my cheese, and Mr Chevre told us we can put all our cheeses together and they will live happily, not contaminating each other, or anything else in the fridge.
- You can eat all the bits of the cheese. The ash and the rinds. But I wouldn’t eat the leaves the really smelly one is wrapped in (top right of the board in the pic above).
- I didn’t know you could use the spreadable goats cheese as a cream cheese substitute. I tasted some cheesecake made with goats cheese and it was delish.
This was the state of the board at the end of our tasting session:
I think we were all holding back a little too and being polite as it was the start of the session. At the end of the day, when we had the to chance to scoop up the leftovers, we were diving over each other to get at the scraps. That could have been thanks to the wine too.
Yes, we had wine! It gets better and better! Caves de Tourangelles Touraine Sauvignon Blanc to be precise (Nicholas have it in stock). I don’t normally drink white wine but it was offered and I was told it went amazingly well with the chevre so in the interest of research I knocked back a couple of glasses. I can confirm, it went
down very well with the cheese. Hic. Hiccup.
After the Great Chevre Tasting of 2011 we hit the kitchen and cooked up some tasty fishcakes that had chevre in the middle. It was dream cooking really. Everything already measured out for us and no cleaning up. It was as easy as chefs make it look on tv. The lovely chef, Sophie Wright, who gets to be the French goats cheese Ambassador and spend her days coming up with yummy ways to cook and eat chevre, lead us through making the fishcakes and then some savoury muffins.
The fishcakes were delicious and I’ve made them at home since and Sun and Shine both wolfed them down. I’ll put the recipe at the bottom of the post if you want to give them a go.
There are a load of recipes here, which I am going to work my way through and report back with verdicts. And for all you could ever want to know about chevre visit their site and have a little look. Seeing as I can’t be the French Goats Cheese Ambassador I will have to settle with being a French Goats Cheese Guru and annoy the hell out of everyone by recommending eating more chevre. Yum.
Haddock & Smoked Salmon Fish Cake with a French Goats Cheese Melting Middle
100g spreadable fresh French goat’s cheese
300g Maris Piper potatoes
300g haddock, skinned and pin boned (any white fish will do)
200g smoked salmon
2tbsp chopped parsley
2tsp chopped chives
Zest of 1 lemon
2tsp small capers, drained
4tbsp plain flour
100g dried bread crumbs
50mls vegetable oil for frying
Make the mashed potato and pop into the fridge to cool while you get on with making the rest of the mix.
Place the fish into a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the herbs, lemon zest and capers and season. Pulse again until just combined. Blend in the chilled mashed potato. Divide the mix into 4 portions.
Take one portion and shape it into a ball. Make an indentation in the centre using your thumb and put a heaped teaspoon of the goats cheese into the hole. Shape the pattie over the cheese. Do this for all 4 patties.
Dip the patties in flour, then beaten egg, then roll in the bread crumbs to coat. Shallow fry in the vegetable oil for 3-4 mins on each side until golden brown then place in a 200 degree oven for a further 10 minutes.
Serve with a wedge of lemon and a simple green salad.
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