Day 83-Paillot de Chèvre

I’m on a goat roll.  Now that I have crossed over to the joy of goat cheese (there’s a sentence I never thought I would write) I’m eager to try more.  Luckily, just about every type of cheese also comes in “goat” so it’s a whole new world of cheese tastes that await me.

Although cow and goat milk have similar fat content, the higher proportion of fatty acid in goat’s milk gives it that special tart flavour. As for that goat-hoof taste, I think that’s just unavoidable and needs to be re-framed as “interesting” rather than “yucky.” The lack of carotene in goat’s milk gives the milk and cheese that characteristic whiter than white colour.  Goat’s milk is often given to people who have a hard time digesting cow milk.  It does contain lactose and casein, problematic entities for many folks, but  goat milk is just easier to digest for us humans.  This is because goat milk is the most similar to human milk in make up. Obviously we need to get over our goat phobia, people.  It’s time.

Today’s cheese, Paillot de chèvre is a pasteurized goat cheese from La Maison Alexis de Portneuf in Quebec.  It is a white soft bloomy-rind cheese, shaped in a traditional chèvre log shape . Despite trying my darndest I was unable to find out anything regarding the history of this specific cheese or its production.  It’s not organic and it is pasteurized, that much I know for sure.  Paillot de chevre looks like a very young cheese, not aged for more than 8 weeks, but that’s my best guess.  Neither the cheese nor its makers are talking.

Straw and goat cheese have a long-standing relationship.  As discussed in my review of St. Maure de Touraine,  a  single straw was often inserted into the centre of soft goat cheese in order to bind it and transport it. Paillot de chevre is presented in homage to this connection between straw and goat cheese-paillot means straw in French.  This log-shaped cheese has the imprint of long pieces of supportive straw running the length of the exterior.  Despite the secrecy about this cheese, it is a winner.  Paillot de Chèvre won the 2008 Silver medal & 2009 Bronze medal in its category at the world cheese awards and first prize winner in its category at the British empire cheese show.

It’s not just this specific cheese that’s living in a cloud of secrecy, I’m having a hard time finding out much about the fromagerie-La Maison Alexis de Portneuf-too.  It was founded one hundred and fifty years ago by Alexis Cayer who settled on the future site of St. Raymond de Portneuf, located  northwest of Quebec City. Alexis Cayer was the patriarch to a family of  farmers and cheese makers.  What happened to his fromagerie and his family is quite mysterious beyond this information.  The website shows an old-timey picture of an old French-looking man.  Is this Alexis de Portneuf?  Is this his fromagerie?  There’s no substance or story at all, it’s so frustrating!

Interestingly, it appears that Le Maison Alexis de Portneuf was recently acquired by the cheese giant, Saputo.  Despite this public sale it doesn’t show up on the Saputo website and the Alexis de portneuf website is also pretty mum.  It’s kind of  like two people who are secretly dating who refuse to acknowledge each other’s existence in public.

My little mysterious wedge of Paillot de Chèvre is quite fascinating in appearance.  It’s a large half-circle of cheese with a straw imprinted bloomy rind.  The interior is two different shades and textures. The very middle is quite white and firm looking and the outer paste is a darker, creamier yellow.  I wonder how they did that? It smells absolutely divine, creamy and yummy and goaty and savoury.

Here goes…

Mmmmmmm.  Me likey!  It’s like two cheeses in one.  That interior firm white cheese is what I used to think all chèvre was, crumbly and light and goaty- but the exterior circle is creamy and sweet and gooey.  Mix that in with the slightly chewy rind and it’s just freaking fabulous.  Yes, it’s clearly a goat cheese-but that’s a good thing.  It’s tart, it’s sweet, it’s gooey, it’s flaky-it’s a little bit spicy and tingly.   This cheese is giving you everything you could ask for.  If I owned you, darling little Paillot de Chèvre I would proudly come out of the closet and proclaim it to the world.  Who cares what your story is- you are absolutely divine.