Day 100-Le Cendrillon

I have good news, and I have bad news.  The bad news is, it’s over.  I have completed my goal of tasting and writing about a new cheese every day for 100 days.  I have not missed one single day.  I have pushed on through head colds, sore necks, self doubt and worse of all, a broken fridge.  The good news is, it’s not over for me with cheese.  Nor is it over for this blog. I still do plan to keep trying new cheeses, and writing about them here.  It’s not going to be as dogmatic-perhaps once a week, perhaps not, we shall see.  I suggest you press the “follow” button on the right hand side under “follow blog via email“if you don’t want to miss future posts.  That will send them directly to you, as I am making no promises  about how regularly they will appear, just that they will.

If you can imagine, I have given some soul-searching into what my last official cheese should be, cheese number 100.  I wanted it to be a special cheese, and a Canadian cheese.  If you have been following this journey, I am sure you will not be surprised to learn that I also wanted it to be a goat’s cheese!  Thus, I am thrilled to have found a cheese that fits all three: it’s Le Cendrillon, a goat’s cheese from Quebec (of course) that is a special cheese.  In fact, it’s so special that it has been declared the WORLD CHAMPION OF CHEESE.  Yes, that’s right THE world champion.

Le Cendrillon-is a reference to the eponymous Cinderella-based opera by Charles Perrault.  Just like a fairy tale, this cheese is invented by the fictitious Alexis de Portneuf, the Betty Crocker of the cheese world.  I touched on the confusion regarding who in the world is Alexis de Portneuf  a couple of posts back when I reviewed his terrific cheese, Paillot de Chevre.  It looks like there really isn’t a Alexis de Portneuf, after all!  He is a marketing creation. Sigh. The real man behind the curtain is Louis Aird, a member of the French cheese fraternity, Confrérie du Taste Fromage de France.  Aird was brought on to develop new cheeses with that artisan-like feel.

Marketing issues aside, this cheese was created in 2005 when Louis Aird got the idea to try making a cheese in the shape of a pyramid. This proved challenging as the centre gets hard with age, so the adjustment was made to that of a long  and flat-topped pyramid.The first moulds for the cheese were made by hand. The cheese makers discovered that this longer,flattened pyramid would ripen faster and more evenly maintain a softer centre. The ash on the rind gives the cheese balance and is a traditional rind for an aged goat’s milk cheese. I’m thinking it’s pasteurized, but don’t quote me on that, most factory made cheese is.

Le Cendrillon was voted the best cheese in the world at the World Cheese Awards in 2009, beating out 2,440 entries from 34 countries as the overall winner in all categories.  It’s the first time a Canadian cheese maker has taken this award, and is a really big deal.  I mean, it’s the best cheese in the world! So really, who cares who Alexis de Portneuf is or isn’t, he’s as Canadian as Santa Claus.

My piece of Le Cendrillon  came in its own little box, I don’t think you can buy this one by the chunk, but it was strangely affordable in comparison to other cheeses I have sampled.  It really is a weird-looking cheese.  It’s a long flat black ash covered pyramid, dappled with mould.  When you cut into it you see an interesting phenomenon that I noticed with Paillot de Chevre, it’s like there are two parts to the interior paste: the outer ring, which is soft and creamy, and the interior core, which is harder and flaky. The black ash makes a good contrast to this two ringed interior, it really is a little show stopper.  Le Cendrillon is quite…um, goaty in essence.  There’s no doubt as to the milk derivation of this one.

Here goes…

Wow.  Um. Wow.  This is freaking amazing. It’s extremely complex.  It’s throwing all sorts of tastes at me at once. First, hello Mrs. Goat!  There’s a strong eau de farm in this one, but I like that.  It’s then  a little astringent, but also salty.  Then there’s that strange spiciness at the back of my throat.  The double texture interior is also playing with my mind.  The exterior ring is sweet and creamy, but that middle core is lemony and chalky.  I like it, I really do, but I’m not sure about the Best Cheese in the World thing, I actually preferred  Paillot de Chevre by the same maker, or of course, St Maure de Tourraine AOC, another ash covered goat’s milk cheese. However, this one is affordable and available and made from goat, so yes, little Cendrillon-you too are my slice of cheese!

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