Few things are as lovely as a young goat cheese from the Loire Valley. It is versatile and light, like a new spring coat, and when paired with preserves or a glass of Sancerre, it becomes ethereal, musical – think “Umbrellas of Cherbourg.”
You could say that Selles-sur-Cher is the Catherine Deneuve of goat cheeses, achingly fresh and flawless. It’s the sort of cheese you can’t possibly tire of, and it’s as sparkly for supper, crumbled over salad, as it is for breakfast, slathered on toast with jam.
When you go to the farmers’ market to buy your first spring greens, make sure you pick up a round of Selles-sur-Cher on the way home. Its bright, citrusy taste and damp, clayey texture pairs well with anything demi, from baby carrots to new spinach, along with spring ramps, radishes, and fiddleheads.
In appearance, Selles-sur-Cher looks a bit like potting soil, but don’t let the black exterior scare you. That’s simply a coating of vegetable ash, a trademark of Loire Valley goat cheeses (Valencay is also “cindered.”) The ash is virtually tasteless; it creates a colorful contrast and serves to neutralize some of the tang.
One nice thing about Loire Valley goat cheeses is that they are always delicate – never “goaty.” This can be attributed to several things, including the lush grasses of the region, which imbue the milk with notes of wildflower and hay.
If you like bolder flavors, look for an aged Selles-sur-Cher. As moisture evaporates, this cheese grows more peppery and earthy, developing notes of barnyard. Some people age Selles until the cheese hardens, then grate it over eggs or pasta.
Young, it’s the perfect cheese for spring –tender, creamy, and just right for layering under last summer’s homemade jam.
For more springtime cheese fashion tips, please visit Madame Fromage.