Cheese of the month November 2013: Pouligny St Pierre, Berry and Touraine/France

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For most people in this part of the world November sounds somehow dark, melancholy and altogether grey. But first, at least for now the late autumn sun is still shining beautifully, second the grey is a great excuse after all the summer outdoors time to settle in at home (cook a lot! music! read!) and third (I know, this is supposed to be a cheese blog) with the right cheese on the table, things will look much better, immediately.

So here is Pouligny St Pierre, the pyramid shaped, more or less ripened goat cheese from the Berry and Touraine regions (which are situated more or less right in the centre of France). Such small hand-ladled cheeses in terms of seasonality are usually (but nor entirely correctly) associated with spring. There are several reasons for this. On one hand the goats’ natural rhythm means that kids are born in the spring, so that after a pregnant, milkless winter there is finally again the stuff to make cheese from.

On the other hand though the association with spring shows  that most of these cheeses are eaten when they are still very young. However, if matured slowly and carefully, that is not too warm and at controlled humidity so that the cheeses don’t dry out too much but also don’t get too wet, the aromas concentrate more and more. Then two months don’t represent a problem, but on the contrary are highly desirable. At that point  a Pouligny with its mellow saltysweet notes and herbal complexity is a real November blues antidote, unflinching even in Chet Baker’s and Leonard Cohen’s darkest moments. And now is the last chance to get hold of the handmade fermier version… So go for it! Follow up with quinces baked with honey, butter and spices and November will become your favourite month. Promised.

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