Tour de France – Fromage de Chevre or Goat's cheese – Loire Valley
Well, I caught Gabriel Gate’s Taste le Tour for the first time last night. Gabriel grew up in the Loire Valley and as the cyclists are in his home region, Gabriel was on the spot to provide interesting gastronomical information. The Loire, with its fertile soil, has an abundance of orchards growing apples and pears. Strawberries and asparagus also grow well here. Apparently, the asparagus particularly likes the sandy soil of the banks of the Loire.
Another interesting fact is that goats cheeses are a specialty in the Loire. Not only is fromage de chevre popular here, but it accounts for 70% of all goats cheeses produced in France – and France is the leading producer of goats cheeses in the world! So if you are partial to fromage de chevre, the Loire is where you need to be.
Poitou-Charentes is France’s number one region for goat cheese production. Gabriel says that frequently the cheeses take the names of the local villages. Tonight Gabriel’s highlight cheese is the Chabichou du Poitou which achieved AOC status in 1990. Shaped like a small cylinder, it is soft but firm and becomes slightly crumbly when very mature. It’s creamy in taste and develops into a stronger flavor with maturity.
So with the local produce in hand, Gabriel quickly whipped up a Tarte aux asperges vertes. He made it look so simple that I’m kidding myself that I’d be able to cook it this weekend. This is approximately what his instructions were:
400 gm of puff pastry
Lightly whisk 1 egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water
1 egg yolk blended with 2 tablespoon cream
16 green asparagus, (chop of fair portion of ends) and blanch for 2 – 3 minutes
Salt and pepper
– Make pastry into a rectangle, about 10 x 30 cm. Use edge of knife to mark borders about 1.5 cm wide along the length of rectangle
– To stop pastry from rising, place baking paper in the centre and fill inside with rice or dried pulses
– Brush edges of pastry with a little of the yolk and then bake for about 15-20 minutes until the edges have risen and are golden brown
– Remove weight from pastry and brush with egg and cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper
– Neatly line the asparagus in the case and spoon egg and cream mixture over it.
– Crumble some goats cheese over the asparagus and bake for another few minutes to melt the cheese.
It looked really delicious and easy. If I’m brave enough to attempt it on the weekend, I might just have a photo to show what it should look like. Unfortunately, finding the Chabichou would be a challenge.