Monday, 18 April 2011

Goat's cheese in chestnut leaves


Mariette was the daughter of a cheese maker at Banon. She would always share sharp white patties made of goats’ milk wrapped in dry of a brown leaves that she brought from her family’s farm.

The perched village of Banon in the high north-east of Provence has produced its famous goat’s cheese since the Gallo-Roman era. Local legend even claims that the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius (86-161 AD) ate so much fine cheese from Banon that he died of this excess.

Traditionally, the cheese is wrapped in chestnut leaves and tied with raffia or straw to keep it fresh through the long winters. After maturing for a couple of weeks, the little rounds of white cheese are washed with a local eau-de-vie (firewater) before being wrapped in the leaves. It’s a lovely creamy cheese with a pronounced woody flavour.

Tome de Provence is the simple country goat’s cheese of this region, which would once have been made by the shepherd’s wife at home. She would add enough rennet to curdle in around an hour, a process adapted for quick cheese making in hot summer temperatures. This too is creamy and delicious with fresh fruit.

In The Lantern, Bénédicte, younger of the two sisters whose family lived at the hillside hamlet for generations, travels up into the higher mountains of Provence to work in the lavender fields, where she meets the cheese maker’s daughter.


And here is the hill-top village of Banon, in all its unassuming splendour, above the purple cords of lavender. In the mountains to the east and south are the great mauve hillsides and plateaux of cultivated lavandin, a hardier hybrid introduced here in the 1920s for use in the scent and cosmetic industries.

32 comments:

Lauracea said...

Delicious. I love this type of cheese. We get a lot of it here in Portugal (but probably not as good as the one you mention) - and sheep's cheese which is so good but sooooooo fattening :(
Traditional cheese-making is the best.

Sam said...

I love cheese but goat's cheese is a bit strong for me - I'm very English in that I like my medium cheddar! :P

Helen Smith said...

Lovely. I love goats' cheese. Those photos are great.

Richard said...

Ce village typique Provence est superbe. Et puis, goûter un fromage de chèvre, mûr à souhait, hmmm, quel régal! Que penserais-tu d'un petit Gigondas, pour éclairer notre esprit et aider la conversation?

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Now I have a taste for goats' cheese. So, is your blog really representative of what life is like in France? Beautiful food, gorgeous natural landscape, lush words flowing from the inspiration all around you?

Wow. Chicago cannot hold a candle to this, especially on a day where the high temperature is 40F with no sun in sight.

Thank you for a lovely post.

Janel said...

I adore goat cheese! I was at the cheese store last week and they had a blueberry goat cheese that looked divine. This chestnut leaf-wrapped version sounds fantastic.

Sarah (Snippets of Thyme) said...

I always reminisce about our incredible trip to Provence last year. We stayed in this tiny hilltop town called Saignon. We soaked up the markets, food, and scenery. It was fall (so no lavader) but I loved every single minute. Good luck with your novel, I can't wait to continue hearing more about it.

la fourchette said...

mmmm! J'adore le chevre...chaud, froid...et les banons...bon et beau egalement!

Lovely photo...and delicious post.

(I'm getting ready to crank up my French studies again...can you tell?!)

Jennifer said...

Yum sounds so delicious. I dream of vacationing in France and your beautiful words always make me long to visit sooner then the scheduled timeframe.

Dianne said...

These little crotins of chevre sound divine!! I'm a bit worried about the story of the Roman Emperor dying from excess!! must remember to curb my cheese intake.

James Kiester said...

I wouldn't mind dying from an excess of good cheese. I'm a huge fan of family farm made cheeses like this. Here's hoping they're still making it in 100 years.

Danièle said...

Rien de tel qu'un bon fromage de chèvre, vraiment :-)

Lisa Erin said...

I love goat cheese, but I'm certain the cheeses I get here don't compare.

The picture of the lavender is beautiful. By far my favorite herb.

renilde said...

Oh you make me long for the south of France and a 'salade chèvre chaud'; I can have that last one today, very good lunch tip ;) x

Steve said...

When I lived in Portugal my local restaurant always a have fresh goats cheese as an apero, it is very soft and a little like a firm yoghurt.
Just slice, and add salt and pepper, then spread over some nice fresh bread.
Luckily here in France our local Super U has just started to sell it, and amazingly it is from our local village.

Olga said...

I love reading your posts. My imagination carries me to the places you describe, with all the fragrances and the air of France.

isabelle gregson said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Now it's my turn.I love a good goat's cheese, well matured and hard. You just can't beat the taste of unpasturised cheese! xx

✿ ♥ France ✿ ✿ said...

COUCOU magnifique la photo avec cette lavande j'adore et quel plaisir de la regarder bise

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

This is some of the best cheese in the world. And your photo of the lavender is gorgeous. You're making me miss France so much right now. It's my favorite time of the year there.
Sam

Cathy K said...

Chevre and lavender, magnifique!

Bunched Undies said...

Yummmmm....love goat cheese

Jennifer O. said...

I've never been able to get myself to try goat cheese. It's difficult for me to try anything other than the norm: cheddar, colby jack, parmesan, mozzarella. That's basically it. I had a very unfortunate incident with cheese as a child that sort of scares me away from trying anything new.

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

I LOVE lavender. That picture is beautiful :)

Sidne,the BCR said...

I love the beautiful pictures. I do love me some goat cheese. What a lovely cottage. i shall return and look forward to reading your novel.

Adiante said...

Oh, Deborah, il n'est que 10H34, ton article me met en appétit !
Un banon,une baguette bien croustillante et un vin rosé ...

Leovi said...

I love the handmade cheese, which changes flavor depending on the season. Beautiful lavender fields, you wonderful fragrance.

Mary ♥ Mur said...

♥ Oh. Nice post.) Love your blog.)) ♥

Elizabeth Young said...

Goat's cheese, fresh lavender growing in the fields, an old stone home - bliss!

Catherine said...

Oh my! How very beautiful! This is a beautiful blog. The pictures are breathtaking. I am now following your blog. I hope that you will visit my blog and follow along too. Thank you, Catherine
http//www.LivingtheGourmet.blogspot.com

Miel Abeille said...

This post has me craving a French holiday!

vanessafrance said...

I adore goat's cheese and we are fortunate that there are several artisan producers in our area. The cheeses they produce range from soft to hard, mild to strong. I much prefer it to brebis (ewe's milk cheese).

Fifi Flowers said...

WOW! GREAT combination... yummy cheese and GORGEOUS scenery!!!
Your site has LOVELY photos!!! Would LOVE to do an interview with YOU at the end of summer when your book will be out in US... for http://ReadingisFashionable.com !!!!
ENJOY!
Fifi

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