Fresh Goat Cheese Log With Roasted Zucchini, Mint and Thai Chili (photos 1-3 © Goat Cheeses Of France).
 Valençay Pyramid With Balsamic-Marinated Watermelon.
 Chevre Bleu d’Argetal With Dark Chocolate.
 Crottin de Chavignol, the best-selling French chevre (photo © Marmiton).
While U.S. cheesemakers produce terrific goat cheeses, the mother of goat’s milk cheeses is France, where goat cheese is called chèvre (SHEV).
France produces a large number of goat’s milk cheeses, especially in the Loire Valley and Poitou, where goats are said to have been brought by the Moors in the 8th century.
If you’re a goat cheese fan, some chèvres with which you may be familiar are Bucheron, Chabis, Chabichou du Poitou, Crottin de Chavignol (the most-produced A.O.C.* goat cheese AOC, photo #4), Montrachet, Pélardon, Pouligny Saint-Pierre, Pyramide, Rocamadour, Sainte-Maure de Touraine and Valençay [source].
We couldn’t find how many goat cheeses are made in France, but there many. To make it easy to select a few for Bastille Day celebrations, we offer three cheese pairings below.
France is the world’s #1 producer of goat’s milk cheeses. Some 3,000 artisan producers and about 60 large dairies craft more than 265 million pounds of goat cheese each year.
That’s a lot of cheese!
Collectively, French farmers manage the third largest goat herd in Europe, with 1,381,000 goats (with more arriving each spring).
That’s a lot of goats!
The secret to delicious French goat cheese is quality. This is where tradition plays a crucial role: French goat cheese has been developed and refined over centuries, so the cheesemakers know how to bring out the best in the goats’ milk and curds.
Discover more, including many recipes, at Goat Cheeses Of France.
WAYS TO SERVE GOAT CHEESE
We are never short of uses, from:
Breakfast: bagels, omelets, toast
Lunch: goat cheese and grilled vegetable sandwich, goat cheese pizza
Snack: goat cheese and crackers (we especially like BelVita Breakfast Biscuits, or McVittie’s digestive biscuits†)
Dinner: goat cheese on pasta‡ (or mac and cheese), goat cheese and arugula first course or goat cheese Caprese
Dessert: a cheese and fruit plate, or this goat cheese ice cream
Wine: with red, white or dessert wine
Fresh and tangy, like a log of chevre.
Creamy and mellow, like an ash-covered Valençay pyramid.
Dense and nutty, like a round of aged Bucherondin.
Styles of goat cheese vary from:
We love a dish of spaghetti dotted with fresh goat cheese and freshly-cracked black pepper†. While France doesn’t make a hard goat grating cheese, you can top it with parmesan or goat Gouda from Holland.
GOAT CHEESE PAIRINGS
These pairings are from Tia Keenan, a fromager, food stylist and the author of “Chèvre,” the first book dedicated to goat cheese.
Tia recommends these cheese pairings, with wine pairings provided by The Nibble’s wine editor, Kris Prasad:
Fresh Goat Cheese Log With Roasted Zucchini, Mint and Thai Chili (photo #1). The bright acidity of a fresh goat cheese log plays against the earthiness of roasted zucchini. The flavors are highlighted by the fresh mint and bracing Thai chili, the heat of which is cooled by the butterfat in the cheese.
Wine Pairings: muscat from Alsace, any chenin-based wine, Costières de Nîmes from the Southern Rhone.
Valençay Pyramid With Balsamic-Marinated Watermelon (photo #2). Sweet, bright and full of deep, ripe flavors, the juicy watermelon contrasts with the fluffy paste of Valençay.
Wine Pairings: Tavel rosé, rosé Marsannay.
Fun Fact about the shape of the Valençay Pyramid: Napoleon returned to France in 1801 following a failed campaign in Egypt, and was presented this cheese in the traditional pyramid shape (with a pointed top). He became angry and sliced the top off with his sword, leaving the flat top we see today (source).
Chevre Bleu d’Argetal With Dark Chocolate (photo #3). The fruit flavors of dark chocolate mimic the mellow, fruity tones of blue cheese.
Wine Pairings: late harvest riesling from Alsace, muscat Beaume de Venise, rasteau fortified wine (not dry), Monbazillac sauternes (off vintage).
While these pairings are great for Bastille Day, you can, of course, enjoy them any day of the year.
*A.O.C or AOC, Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. Controlled designation of origin in English, the A.O.C. mark guarantees, among other things, that the cheese (or other food) with this certification originates from a specific region of France, and has been produced in a traditional way. There are 35 types of cheeses carrying the A.O.C. mark, which guarantees that: (1) The cheese was produced within a specific geographical area, from milk from specific herds of animals in the same area and partly matured there. (2) The cheese was made using strictly defined methods that have been handed-down over several centuries. (3) The characteristics of the cheese that have been precisely defined—its size, type of rind, texture and minimum fat content—are adhered to strictly. (4) The producers submit themselves to review by a public control commission, which guarantees the authenticity and quality of the products. D.O. and D.O.P. are similar certifications from Italy and Spain.
†McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits, imported from the U.K., are slightly sweet. They’re one of the most popular biscuits worldwide, great with a cup of tea, too. You can find them at specialty food stores and at Amazon.
‡Use cubes of Selles sur Cher or dollops of a fresh log, along with fresh lemon zest, pine nuts and plenty of fresh herbs.