The Cheesemonger: Chabichou du Poitou

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Name: Chabichou du Poitou Producer: Various (France) Milk: Raw/Thermalized Goat Age: 60 days Price: $5.99-$13.99/lb

After this week, I promise, I'll take a break with the goat cheeses. To me, on a tour of goat cheeses, there's no better place to end up than the Loire Valley, France's largest goat cheese producing region. Chances are, if you've had a French goat cheese, be it Selles-sur-Cher, Valencay, or even the simple Crottin de Chavignol, it originated in this valley. Today, we look towards the region of Poitou-Charentes, which produces the AOC protected goat cheese, Chabichou du Poitou.Maybe it's the tounge-twister of a name, but I'm suprised this cheese does not share the recognition that most American cheese lovers have with its neighbors. Truly, it could not better fit the American palate. Instead of green-gray ash of Valencay, Chabichou is encased in a natural ivory rind, perfectly edible and thin enough that, as the interior becomes more dense, it is relatively indistinguishable to the interior, taste-wise. And this cheese will become dense, reaching beautifully lingering tounge coating heights. It also lacks the biting acidity associated with many goat cheeses of its young age. Instead, you'll find something definitely nutty, a little sweet, and only the most subtle whisp of gaminess. Though it lacks the creaminess of more traditional choices, I could not pick a better young goat cheese to pair with a bit of honey as dessert. If served before dinner, it would also make an excellent selection to be sliced into rounds and served on a bit of grilled baguette.

Chabichou du Poitou is commonly available at most cheese shops. Artisanal carries it for $11.00ea., Murray's has it for $13.99 and iGourmet carries it for $5.99ea. If you cannot find Chaichou, be on the lookout for the Le Chevrot, which is similar, if a bit less complex, but much easier to find (my corner Italian deli even carries it).

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