#fromagefriday: Chèvre Cendré (goat cheese rolled in ashes)
One of my favorite pastimes of my life in France is exploring the more than 400 different types of cheese (some say there are more than 1,000, but I’ll let smarter people debate that). Nearly each week when I go to the farmer’s market, I try to pick up 2-3 new cheeses to try. I always steer toward the “lait cru” cheeses, which use unpastuerized milk. They’re almost always richer and more flavorful.
This week, I had tried a different fromagier (cheese vendor) than I usually do. They have a pretty decent selection, and my eyes were instantly drawn to this cheese for it’s dark grey color and unusual texture.
It’s quite common to find goat cheeses covered in things–leaves, herbs, pepper, etc. But ashes are a different story. And at first, it might seem unappetizing. But when I got home and tasted it, I found it soft in flavor and texture. (Side story: Several months ago, I bought a saucisson sec that was also cendré and it was almost like eat dirt.)
Like many things related to French cheese, there is a long history of using ash as a covering. The entire purpose, originally, was to help preserve the cheese. According to CheeseMaking.com, the ash was mixed with salt and when applied to the surface of a freshly made cheese, neutralized the acids in it and allowed the cheese to ripen without attracting the wrong types of bacteria.
Overall, the taste of this cheese is outstanding. It has almost all the hallmarks typical of goat cheese: soft in texture, almost velvety, and rich in flavor. However, what it lacked is the normal tang characteristic of goat cheese, and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. A lot of goat cheeses tend to be almost sour, which I find somewhat off-putting (I mean, I still eat them like my life depended on it). This one, however, was very mild in flavor, which helped magnify the rich, velvety taste. And, best of all, it didn’t taste ashy at all!