Been on a French kick of late… today’s feature is a tiny little stub of a “brainy rind” goat cheese in production in the Poitou-Charentes since at least the 8th century and a protected origin cheese since 1990.
“Brainy rind” is the result of using Geotrichum Candidum on the surface of the cheese. Geotrichum is the usual culprit in the surface rot you see develop on past-due peaches. Writer and cheese expert Laura Werlin explains how geotrichum is a good thing on cheese:
“Surface-ripened cheeses sometimes share the white mold of soft-ripened cheeses, but they look more wrinkly and have what I call a “brainy” rind. This is caused by a yeast-like fungus called geotrichum, which imparts a mushroomy, sometimes goaty flavor. These are almost exclusively goat cheeses, like the Loire cheese selles-sur-cher, the Italian cheese La Tur, as well as several varieties made by the Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery: Bonne Bouche, Bijou and Coupole. They’re usually small, no more than four to six ounces. They’re usually cylindrical, sometimes pyramid-shaped. Sometimes they’re a little creamy at the center, sometimes chalky. If you don’t wrap them but leave them out in the refrigerator or even a cool cupboard, they’ll dry out and you can grate them. Often their rinds have a coral color; sometimes they have a vegetable ash that makes them look grayish. To some they might look like a scary science experiment they’d never ingest. But to those of us in the know, they’re delicious.”
Chabichou is quintessentially goat. And in this ~6 weeks aged form is a dense, dry, chalky paste with a vigorously goaty flavor. The rind as well is dry and firm, especially when several weeks old as was this example. The older and drier the more it seems to resemble the chalky soils of the region of Poitou between Paris and Bordeaux. Younger versions hold more moisture to the point of being -almost- spreadable.
Pair with a French chardonnay (not oaky), Sancerre or sauvignon blanc.
Cheese: Chabichou du Poitou
Milk Type: goat(pasteurized)
Rind: surface-ripened “brainy” rind
Shape: ~6oz cylinder/cone
Tasting notes: sweet, acidic, salty. Goat to be sure.