posted by Kirstin in Food, Guest Bloggers, Wine
The dear Crottin de Chavignol, which first saw the light of day in the 16th century, was named “animal poop” or “dung” in honor of its similarity in size and shape to French horsey droppings.
That is how you know it’s good. Because, unlike the American dish, “shit on a shingle” that is fortunately served in even rarer instances than its distant cousin, green jello with canned fruit and mayo, people all over the world still eat this cheese.
To make this Crottin, cheesemakers take the whole milk of the famed goats in the area and ladle the smooth liquid into its tiny molds. The milk stays in the mold from twelve to twenty-four hours, where it starts to take it’s “Crottin-like” shape. The wrinkled, rippled surface develops on the cheese after it’s removed from the mold, salted and ripened from 10-12 days in a dry environment.
Fresh or fully mature, le Crottin de Chavignol exists in multiple forms that can soothe the dairy pains of many a particular cheese-eater. At different stages in its life, it seems to morph into entirely different types of cheese. Ranging from white and butter-colored when young to gray or off blue when older, and it’s texture respectively alternating from crumbly and lush to thick and hard enough to employ as a door knocker when one’s knuckles grow weary, le Crottin is a shape shifter.
With bright, herbaceous and lemony flavors, le Crottin can be enjoyed shortly after its creation as a spreadable or melting cheese . It is white or slightly yellow now, and soft and crumbly. One of the favorite ways to eat this Crottin young is warmed over toasted bread in a Chevre Chaud Salad in Parisian bistros. Later, as it matures-
sometimes as soon as a month or so after it arrives in the U.S., it develops a firmer texture that allows the cheese to be grated or sliced. This is the time to Introduce this Crottin “of a certain age” grated over gnocchi, or sliced atop artisan salumi with tarragon in a crusty baguette.
When young, le Crottin screams for a Sancerre, or other bright, fresh Sauvignon Blancs. But at this early stage it really pairs well with anything. As it ages, try it with another wine from the Loire Valley, where the cheese is made. Try it with a Cabernet Franc- the red grape of the region, or with a Chenin Blanc from Vouvray. Another good match is a Grenanche based wine. Fair warning: when young, notre petit Crottin can stand up to a Pinot Noir, but when it ages, it becomes a tad to strong for the delicate grape.
Next time: possibly another adventure in really specific cheese and wine pairing.
Kirstin Jackson Ellis works as a wine bar manager and wine and food consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes about wine and food pairing at Vin de La Table, her luxurious and lighthearted blog.