Warm Baked Goat Cheese

cheese plate

It’s funny, because some people get the impression that I don’t like where I live. Which is kind of strange, because I don’t understand why anyone would think that I’d live somewhere where there was a dearth of clothes dryers if I didn’t like it. And if you saw the paperwork that I have to fill out just to stay here, well, let’s just say that one really has to want to live here to plow through it all.

I’ve read a lot of books extolling what a glorious place Paris is, with tales of skipping along Left Bank streets, happily shopping for new shoes whenever the mood strikes, and resting in one of those cafés on the boulevard St. Germain sipping a $7 coffee.

They certainly paint a rosy view of the city. But then I realized something: The authors of those books no longer live here.

Like all cities, Paris is a real place. A lot of people understandably come here looking for old bistros and quaint cafés, often to find those kinds of place disappearing, or disappointing. Then they’ll step into La Maison du Chocolate, take a bite of a Rigoletto Noir, filled with caramelized butter mousse, and realize that life doesn’t get any better than that.

Sometimes I’ll be riding my bike around at night by the Seine, under the softly-glowing lights. I’ll look around, and think, “Paris is breaktakingly beautiful.” Other times, I’ll scratch my head when the bank tells me they have no change that day. Or stare at the pile of paperwork that’s arrived in the mail, filled with endless forms that need to be filled out, and think, “Can someone remind me why I moved here?”

Anyhow, I still live here and accept that like anywhere, Paris is a real city with its flaws and its fabulousness.


And one of the most fabulous things about Paris are the fromageries. I love, love, love the cheese shops and my dream has always been to work in one. (Although after my experience working at the fish market, l might want to rethink that.)

comté

Each time I visit a fromagerie, I see something new on the straw-lined shelf, and can’t help bringing home a wonderful specimen of cheese. Money or matière grasse (fat percentage) is no object.

There’s a new book out, Au Revoir to All That, about the decline of French cuisine. I haven’t read it, but I listened to an interview with the author who said that at this point, less than 10% of the cheeses in France were made from raw milk.

Considering a lot of people buy their cheese at the supermarket, where you can get decent cheese (along with the factory-produced stuff), I wouldn’t doubt it. Still, it’s not all that hard to find great raw-milk cheeses, like Brie de Meaux and Camembert du Normandie if you visit your local cheese shop.

slicing cheese

Back in the states, you can also find great cheese, although it can take a bit more looking around. Happily, at most supermarkets you can find a very decent cheddar and goat cheese seems to be becoming more common in well-stocked grocers across the land.

unbaked goat cheese

One of my favorite ways to serve goat cheese is the way we did it back when I worked at Chez Panisse; marinated in olive oil, coated with good-quality bread crumbs, then baked in a toaster oven. We used Acme levain bread. If I’m by myself, I’ll often buy a small crottin de chèvre and toast that up for a nice lunch. “Crottin” means “crap” in French, and the rounded pellets of cheese are meant to resemble goat droppings. So while this may seem unappetizing you to, one taste of the semi-melted cheese will remove any connection to anything crappy. In fact, it’s pretty wonderful, like Paris so often is.

baked goat salad

Baked Goat Cheese

This isn’t a strict recipe, but a technique, and can be made with any size goat cheese. It’s best to select one that’s fresh and soft, without a firm rind.

I use sourdough (levain) bread crumbs made from stale bread but you can certainly use what’s available where you are, as long as they’re from a sturdy loaf. If you buy breadcrumbs that are already toasted, simply mix them with the seasoning ingredients and skip the toasting in the oven. Some people use finely-chopped hazelnuts in place of some of the breadcrumbs.

Leftover breadcrumbs can be stored in the freezer, or strewn over whole-wheat pasta tossed with greens cooked with garlic and red chile flakes.

1. Cut you goat cheese into disks about 3/4-inch (2cm) thick. You can use anything from small crottins to a larger cheese, slicing it in half across the equator. Marinate the disks in olive oil, which can be done up to two days in advance. If done in advance, I like to add some herbs, such as fresh rosemary and thyme, as well as some black pepper, and let them rest in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 375F (180C).

2. Mix together fresh bread crumbs (for four servings, about 1/2 cup, 60g) with a generous pinch of sea salt, and just enough olive oil to moisten the crumbs, about 1 to 2 teaspoons.

3. Spread the crumbs on a baking sheet and cook the crumbs until golden brown and crispy, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring a few times during baking.

4. Once toasted, let cool and mix in 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon chopped parsley.

5. Brush the goat cheese rounds with olive oil. (Unless they’ve been marinated. In which case, pluck them from the oil and let the excess drip off briefly.)

6. Dredge the goat cheese in the toasted breadcrumb mixture until they’re completely coated and bake on a cookie sheet or in a gratin dish, either non-stick or lightly-greased, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until warmed through and soft when you press gently in the center.

7. Remove from over and use a spatula to lift the goat cheese rounds from the pan.

Serve with a green salad (dressed with hazelnut oil is great), and thin slices of toasted levain (sourdough) bread, a favorite crisp bread, or crackers. This also makes a great appetizer.

Where To Get Fresh Goat Cheese

In the United States, you can almost always find great goat cheese at your local farmer’s market, natural food stores, and at well-stocked supermarkets no matter where you live. Laura Chenel’s Taupinière is one that works very well, and Redwood Hill and Vermont Butter & Cheese are two producers who ship.

Other goat cheese producers in America include; Belle Chèvre (Alabama), Cypress Grove (Californian), Rollingstone Chèvre (Idaho), Capriole (Indiana), York Hill Farm (Massachusettes, Westfield Farm (Massachusettes), Dancing Wind Farms (Minnesota), Coach Farm (New York), and Northern Prarie (Texas).

Check websites for shipping information.

Two of my Favorite Guides to Cheese

Steve Jenkins Cheese Primer: A highly-opinionated guide by one of America’s best cheese experts. This encyclopedia covers cheeses from around the world.

French Cheeses: A terrific identification guide to a wide majority of the French cheeses, with outstanding photographs and descriptions.

125 comments

  • Ah, les fromages. Another reason to find that B&B to buy one day.

  • Ohh, this sounds like bliss and a perfect light dinner on this 90+ degree day over here in New Hampshire.

  • Sweet Grass Dairy in south Georgia http://www.sweetgrassdairy.com/ is another great source.

  • I am going to try this
    It’s great for a morning picnic

  • Pure Luck Diary in the Austin, TX area is also a fabulous source: http://www.purelucktexas.com/Main/index.php

  • What wonderful stories and a great recipe. I never knew that’s what “crottin” meant and now it just seems so perfect. I can’t wait to make some goat “droppings.” I like the Vermont Butter & Cheese brand you recommend – it’s a good kosher chevre and easy to find. Love the idea of coating with bread crumbs and chopped hazelnuts – and I have some fabulous hazelnut oil that I’ve been dying to break out.

    In a pinch, do you think you could use panko?

    Thanks for the Paris memories…

  • It is amazing how similar bureaucratic France sounds to England, but 30 years ago when post offices didn’t always have any money and sometimes the electricity didn’t work!
    I love goats cheese, my mouth is watering as I read your post at work and I am completely distracted from duties for a moment. A brief respite for which I thank you!
    Kate
    http://katethebake.blogspot.com

  • David, great post, thanks so much. I also appreciate your take on Paris. I think most places in the world worth loving have fantastic parts and not-so-fantastic parts. Are there any fromageries you recommend in Paris? Any know if I could smuggle cheese home when I visit this fall?

  • I love the idea of bread crumbs on baked cheese! I’ll make this as soon as I can stand the idea of turning anything cooking-related on in my sauna apartment.

    You might enjoy this: today at the supermarket they wouldn’t sell me a plant because there was no price on it, and offered me a smaller, completely different one that did have a price on it instead. Makes complete sense!

  • julie: Many fromageries have a Cryovac machine (sous vide) to contain odors during shipping. One that I like is Laurent Dubois. They have a great selection of cheeses, although there are plenty of other cheese shops with Cryovac machines, too. Just a note: some charge an extra euro or so to do that.

    Sara: Whenever something doesn’t have a price on it (which for some reason, is always the one thing I need), I don’t bother buying it unless I have thirty minutes or so to spare while they look it up. Or as you pointed out, if it doesn’t have a price on it, they simply won’t sell it to me.

  • This looks absolutely marvelous. I have always day dreamed about making my own cheese for a living and would move to Paris in a second just to enjoy the bread and cheese!

  • Don’t forget WI cheeses. The most artisanal cheese makers in the US. And plenty of goat cheeses. http://www.eatwisconsincheese.com/wisconsin/artisans/default.aspx
    Thanks for this blog entry. Yum!

  • No matter how many times I eat this salad, I’m always amazed by how good it is. Vive la France! Vive le Fromage!

  • One of the things that I really loved about France (although I have only visited, not lived there) was the great local cheeses, wines and specialty foods that you can still find in the small towns and villages around France. It’s getting harder and harder to find local foods in the US – everything has been standardized, branded, packaged, frozen and shipped from a central processing facility. Especially away from either coast, you really have to look for local and unique food here in the US, where in France it seemed like so much a part of the culture.

    I am looking forward also to reading “Au Revoir to All That” as well.

    The baked cheeses look great.

  • So simple, and yet so delicious! I live in Montreal, where we are fortunate enough to have a few decent cheese shops and raw milk cheeses (despite recent outbreaks of listeria), but I don’t take advantage of them half often enough!

  • Great post! Zingerman’s Creamery in Ann Arbor, Michigan http://www.zingermanscreamery.com/ is another great source.

  • Sigh. I miss Paris….

  • Pure Luck Texas is a wonderful source for goat cheese in Texas (made on their family goat farm) which I think has won a lot of awards — Whole Foods and Central Market in Austin and San Antonio sell their cheese.

    http://www.purelucktexas.com/

  • I completely understand what you mean about Paris. I live in Tokyo, which people think must be the most thrilling and cutting-edge place in the world, but more often than not it’s just a big city like so many others. While there are times I want to pull out my hair in frustration with the way they do things here, there are just as many times where I have a big dopey grin on my face and can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.

  • i just got back from two weeks in the south of France and it amazes me how that country continues to function as an ostensibly developed country. maybe I am underestimating the impact of good fresh food on economic success but how can they repeatedly treat customers like crap and get away with it?!

    point in hand: yesterday i waked into ‘the phone house’ to top up my prepaid SFR phone and the guy told me brusquely that his ‘machine iz broken’ and then told me to find an SFR shop down the road in Cannes. when I asked him of there was such a shop nearby he dismissingly waved me off with his hand. I wonder what would happen if they had the same gun laws as america.

    I barely got the gut in the next shop to sell me some credit. you have to often beg to buy in France. makes you wonder what the beggars do.

    I do have to touch upon the topic of food and say the I had a simply amazing shrimp pasta with olive oil in a lovely restaurant on the port in portofino. simply unbelievable food at this nondescript outdoors eatery with great Italian service.

  • That looks very tasty and a perfect summer lunch on top of a green salad. Love hearing about all of the quirks of Paris living.

  • Anyone who thinks you don’t like where you live simply doesn’t *get* you, David! I love your commentary on cultural differences between the French and Americans, it makes me laugh out loud and shake my head all at the same time. Which is hard to do when I’m busy drooling over your food photos, too.

  • Oh David…I had that “why did I move to this country?” feeling yesterday when I received my France income tax bill. I better start taking full advantage of this number one rated health care system.

  • Look at that Liliputian sized wedge you cut out of the cheese in that pic! ;)

  • I try to remind myself when I visit France, that I am on vacation and that is not real life. If I were to live in France, my life would be drastically different than when I visit and spend my days at markets, cafés and patisseries. (Oh… and I’d also have to somehow earn a living. I keep forgetting that little necessity). Right now we have a 16-year old French boy visiting us from Marseille. He said he hates France and loves America. He is also on vacation…

  • My mouth is drooling. This looks so good.

    I had to take A Sweet Life back to the library yesterday and it really was sad. You wrote such a wonderful book.

  • Thank you for the reminder that things are wonderful, but sometimes only when you take the moment to LOOK.

    I used almond flour instead of breadcrumbs or hazelnuts for coating the rounds and they were still lovely. Thank you for posting.

  • Ah, and Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese in Niwot, Colorado http://www.haystackgoatcheese.com/ and a new dairy, Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy in Buena Vista, Colorado http://www.jumpin‘good goats.com both have wonderful goat cheese just perfect for this salad.

  • Haystack Mountain goat cheese out of Niwot, CO (near Boulder) is amazing! Their chevre is wonderful, and they make an amazing raw goat’s milk cheese called Queso de Mano…. soooooooo good. Here’s their website: http://www.haystackgoatcheese.com/

  • Oh yum – raw cheese. The only kind I can eat! We are lucky to have a great natural foods coop in our town that has a wonderful selection of raw cheeses, both local and from around the globe. Sadly, however, I recently found out that U.S. federal law prohibits the sale of raw cheese aged less than 60 days. No wonder I can only find hard cheese! No delicious soft raw cheeses for me. :(

  • You’re an ideal translator for Americans who don’t get Paris! I thought about it when I went to a terrific French-owned bistro in NYC last weekend. The service was terrible – and that made total sense. I checked reviews when I got home, and they were all bad because of diners who were baffled and upset over the brusque wait staff. I welcomed it as a sign of authenticity after having read your book.

  • Liz Thorpe was on Science Friday last week: http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/200908146

    (It was a devastating thing to have to listen to at lunchtime!)

    We smuggled a Livarot home when last in France, much to the dismay of all our friends.

  • Goat cheese is one of my major weaknesses. I just moved out to Maryland and now need to find a good source!

  • I was wondering if you knew where to find Cypress Grove chèvres in Paris. I’ve been looking, but to no avail. I’m missing my Midnight Moon. :(
    I know, les fromages américains aren’t especially popular here, except cheddar, sort of.
    Anyway, I’ll definitely try this recette bientôt. Merci pour la partager!

  • I work in a cheese shop and I haven’t become tired of it yet. I love opening big wheels of cheese and turning customers on to new things. I also get to eat cheese all day, as many kinds as I want, it’s awesome.

    Dawn- there are some softer raw milk cheeses, such as the charolais affine, a raw goats milk cheese from France, that are aged about 90 days.

  • New York inspires the same love-hate feelings for me. I think any big city does, really.

    I’m excited to try this. Looks like a great first course or light supper.

  • I love your pictures and the recipe looks great. I love reading about your Paris food experiences!

  • Hi David….I am loving your book (sweet life in paris)..laughing out loud especially about how the french push in line in front of you….I just about got flattened at monoprix and thought I’d done something wrong…now I’m sort of honoured…

    love your blog..keep enjoying Paris for all of us

  • I just made the Plum Upside Down Cake from the Cafe Cookbook. Is that a recipe of yours? Because it turned out beautifully! As a sidenote – I will be traveling in Lyon in November…any suggestions on places I must eat??

  • When I think baked goat cheese, I think tapas: surrounded by tomato sauce and served with crostini bread to dip. But this is a new way to think about it! Yum!

  • I’ve made something similar for a long time. But I use coarse corn meal instead, and saute the crottin in a little olive oil until brown on both sides. They are fabulous when served with olive oil and garlic tossed capellini.

    Working at a fromagerie can be a lot of fun. Most people who go into a cheese shop want to know about what they are eating, and many are looking for something a bit new and different. You spend a lot of time chatting with the customers about pairings, new offerings, and the cheese making process.

  • Warm cheese. Bread. Olive oil. Herbs. Rapide et facile. What’s not to love? Yum!

  • I love your stories about the French! I can sort of relate- as a Brit living in NYC I still face situations that are culturally very different despite speaking the same language! i love how the french word for crap is so refined! I must add it to my kitchen swearing vocabulary!

  • I am drooling on the key board — I love warm goat cheese. And, I know now that my decision to return to my home town was the right one because we now have two cheese shops. Life can’t get much better than that. (And the more established one has started serving lunch and light dinner — a cheese based menu and flights of wine. Pure heaven).

  • I might translate “crottin” as “turd” rather than “crap”, simply because I would never say, “Crottin! I just dropped that warm runny cheese on the floor.” :) I can’t wait to get back to the continent (this time it is the US) next week to get my hands on cheese, any decent cheese!

  • love the recipe – adore goats cheese ever since I lived in Leeds up the road from a goat farm so the cheeses were very fresh.

    Always amaze my french friends when I order cheese instead of dessert (and sometimes cheese and dessert!) as l’anglais don’t like cheese!!!!!!!!!!!!!. Current mission is to bring UK cheese to Paris as we actually have more regional cheeses than the French. Took Cornish crunchy cheddar (2 years old), red leicester, Stilton, white stilton with cranberries (my personal fav – combination of a sweet cheese and tart cranberries is simply divine) and goats cheese over last weekend.

    Love walking past the cheese shops in Paris and spending a few minutes just sniffing the air surrounding them before I decide which ones I am going to take home with me.

  • I’m simply melting looking at all these cheeses… Comté, fromage de chèvre…
    I just feel I have to source some here now !
    And regarding the paperwork, well, c’est la vie ! ;)

  • Baked bread crumbed crottins are especially tasty with fresh figs, which happen to be in season in much of the US right now. For some reason, they’re actually reasonably priced in areas where they’re trucked in, too. (Maybe the poor economy somehow enabled buyers to finagle a deal with California fig farmers? Dunno.) A local goat farmer here told me she wouldn’t make chevre or crottins because they were boring. It took all my resolve not to laugh in her face. To me, the creamy, sweet, tangy fresh goat cheeses are just lovely, not at all boring. I suppose the aging process is kind of exciting if you’re a goat keeper who savors anticipation…but still!

  • Oh! How I miss the warm chevre salads in France! I taught in France last year, and I think every time I ate in a restaurant, I ordered a warm goat cheese salad. I’ll have to go find some goat cheese here and give it a go in my kitchen.

  • A fabulously addictive goat cheese is made by Fantome Farms in Wisconsin, USA. They sell it every week at the Farmer’s Market in Madison. They roll the cheese in ash which changes the acidity (how, I don’t know). What I do know is that I can’t resist buying it every single time I’m there!

  • Aah… Steve Jenkins! I am at his Fairway Grocery at least once a week to shop his amazing cheese section! I’m alll about goat cheese so I go there and pick up the same 3 over and over… Le Chevrot, Chabichou and Boucheron.(And sometimes parmagania or comte, too.) Come home every night from work and slice up a bit of one or all three and enjoy with a glass of wine, bread or crackers and a little fruit or tomatoes and olive oil…

    Laurent Dubois — he has another shop in the 15th which is on the same street of an apartment I rented for a week’s vacation in Paris in 2007… Didn’t realize he was “the big cheese” until I only recently saw him, his shop and “my street’ on an episode of Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmern in Paris. I jumped out of my chair excited and bought the episode from iTunes! It’s the best souvenir I have! I now have the whole street where I stayed and the fromagerie that I visited there daily on digital vidoe on my computer. Yay for me!

    I love goat cheese and Paris! :)

  • I ate that exact goat cheese salad when I visited Chez Panisse in 1992! It was the first time I ever had goat cheese. I was 12 years old and I’ve never forgotten it. Thanks for sharing the memory!

  • I really don’t remember how I found you, but I did! AND I’m so excited that I did! I’m visiting Paris for the first time (first time for Europe!) and we’re arriving on 12/26 and leave 1/2. It’s always been my dream to spend the New Year in Paris and now I will! When others ask if I’ll be visiting the Eiffel Tower or viewing the Mona Lisa, I realize that those are not the places I long to see! It’s the markets and the streets and the cafes and the bakeries…….we’re renting a flat JUST so I can cook my fabulous finds at the markets! Thanks you for being here….and although it was not for me, it is now! I’m going to learn all I can learn so I can make the most of my first and maybe last visit to Paris! Thank you for finding me….because I think it was fate!

  • A great read and delicious recipe. Love the glimpse at the real Paris.

  • I live in Berkeley and think that Acme’s levain bread is the best bread ever. I’ve almost always got some in my pantry, though sometimes it goes hard before I can eat the whole loaf. Now I’ve got a great use for all those stale bits!

  • I had no idea most cheeses in France weren’t from raw milk, I thought most cheese there was from raw milk, and most all cheese in the states wasn’t. Good to know. Great recipe, I absolutely love goat cheese!

  • I can’t even concentrate on the rest of the words in this post cause that plate of cheese is sooooooooooo enticing.

    *sigh* I would love to try raw cheese but alas…I’m allllll the way in Canada.

  • I can’t say I enjoyed Au Revoir to All That much, I’ve no doubt the chap is a Francophile but he seemed to fall into the “France isn’t working because it doesn’t work the way we want it to” mindset common amongst ‘Anglos’. Last time I visited a McDonalds there it was full of tourists (I wasn’t there for myself), and as France is the biggest tourist draw in the world is it any surprise the McDonalds are flourishing?
    I could go on and on, but suffice to say I found the book very unsatisfactory, and some of its assertions, that France had ‘missed out’ on all the wealth created in New York and London seem plain hilarious reading it in the present time. Not to say that French cuisine (and France) doesn’t have its problems, of course it does.

  • My favorite food memory of Paris is when I had my first salad chevre chaud. Oh that mix of crispy cold lettuce, crunchy walnuts, juicy tomato, the tang of vinagrette and the surprise of the soft, hot cheese-my favorite taste combo in the world.

  • Can you betray the secret of your fabulous baguette shop? Will be there in early Sept, from Australia. Merci en avance pour votre gentillesse. Any tours etc at that time.
    Edward

  • I completely agree with you about Paris, David. When I started blogging about Paris I got a number of angry emails telling me that I was damn fortunate to live here and I should stop complaining. (Now people say, “You were funnier when you were miserable. Can’t you find a reason to go to the Prefecture, just to get the snark back?”).

    Unfortunately, though I like a lot of different cheeses, I can’t handle chevre and fromageries make me extremely nauseous. Shame, but it’s a physical reaction that I just can’t control! I’ll stick to the well-aged Comte.

  • Gayle: Yes, panko would likely work well.

    Edward: Am not sure which one you’re referring to, but if you’re thinking about the one with the sesame baguette, I did a post about it remaining open with information.

    LB: I haven’t read the book, although I’ve been asked to comment it on it quite a bit. Most of the points of contention that I have with the current state of French cuisine, I’ve mentioned in my book, or here on the site.

    Alec Lobrano wrote a terrific piece about the book, A French Critic Looks at French Food, which brings up a lot of good points. It is unfortunate that there are so many McDonald’s here, but if you’re on a road trip in France, it’s nearly impossible to find decent food unless you really drive quite a distance from the highway. (And I mean, really far.) And in the cities, they’re popular because the food is fast and relatively quick.

  • I have always loved these baked goat cheese rounds, thanks for illuminating me on how it’s done. the marinating in the olive oil is the step I’ve been missing.

    as for a changing France – I lived in Italy for a couple years and haven’t been back in a while. I’ve heard the same thing about it – it’s culinary traditions are changing; I’m afraid to come back and see it’s been westernized to a horrible extent.

    your attitude is a good one, david. you still find the cheeses you love, the rituals, and you can emphasize the positive.

    man, that paperwork must suck!

    I also want to say, I appreciate your writing style so much. it’s always enjoyable to read.

    thanks!!

  • I look forward to your posts and try many of your recipes. Having been in Paris since 1995, and your experiences in the city make me laugh out loud! I totally understand your méli-mélo relationship with the place and the French. Because I still go back and forth to the UK every week, I can compare their issues to those we have here as well. And as someone said, if you aren’t interested in and open to that, you might as well stay at home! All in all, France is a wonderful, frustrating place, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world for lots of reasons but a major one is CHEESE! I love it so much that it is the basis for my new business. (And crottin does translate to animal poo/cow patties etc., but also translates as the most well know goat cheese in France!)

  • Don’t forget about Ohio! A fantastic resource for goat cheese here in NE Ohio is the Mackenzie Creamery (http://mackenziecreamery.com/) Lovely people, lovely goats, lovely cheese. Thanks for the recipe/technique – I’m seeing peaches on that salad too…

  • There was a piece in the NYT zine written by a US citizen whose husband had to be hospitalized while on vacation in FR. Their credit card was billed:

    “Six months later, the bill arrived. For X-rays, an EKG, 10 hours in the ER, a doctor,a cardiologist, technicians, nurses, drugs and even the surly gatekeeper, we were required to pay $220.”

    And I bet the cheese sandwich in the cafeteria didn’t suck, either.

  • Dear David, I’m sure you enjoy Paris and I’m sure I will too!!! aah! It is my dream, I love all of Paris.

    I think you are so lucky!!
    Love cheeses of all types, especially blue cheeses, I can’t live without cheese!

  • France is like a significant other (or whatever the current trendy phrase is): It gets in your blood and you take the good with the bad. It’s complex, lovely and maddening. I can’t live without it. Same with cheese. I own the two books David recommends, and reread parts of them before every trip. Vive le fromage!

  • I will try wonderful Cheeses prefect for my Sunday Brunch !

    I’m reading your book and loving it !

    Thank you !

  • Oh, yum. I love goat cheese. Which reminds me, I still have a bit of apricot goat cheese from a local goat farmer in my refrigerator. (it’s so delicious just eating straight, I have trouble getting it into an actual recipe.)

    So I’m sure there’s a valid reason for this, but why is the woman in that photo appearing as though she’s doing a push-up in the middle of all that cheese? She must be checking the price or something, but her doing a push-up was my initial thought. Yes, I’m bizarre.

    And for the record, I didn’t believe you didn’t like to live in Paris!

  • Is this on your regime minceur? Because if so, I am definitely on board.

  • I could live on cheese alone… especially French cheese. We bought a condo in a neighborhood in Chicago that had a specialty cheese shop… and when we closed on the condo we found out the cheese shop had closed! But we still have some decent options, living in a big city.

    And speaking of big cities, I think people’s impressions of your views on Paris is kind of common for big cities. I love Chicago and hope to live in the city for a long time, but there are days you can’t help but complain about the crowds, tardy trains, crime, etc. I still love it, but you have to vent some time. I can tell from reading your blog that you love Paris… even if it sometimes makes you crazy! :)

  • Who was it that said “Cheese is milk’s leap to immortality”? I couldn’t agree more!
    This looks like a fabulous yet simple recipe Would it work if you mixed in a small quantity of chopped walnuts (or hazelnuts) in with the breadcrumbs?

  • Thanks for this way to serve goat cheese.

    Earlier this summer, I experienced a goat-cheese revelation. We came upon le chevre noir–a hard goat cheese made in Quebec. (We bought it in Toronto at a specialty store.) It starts off with that distinct goat cheese taste, then has a rich finish with a hint of salt. It’s wonderful–Quebecois, not from-France-French, but wonderful.

    Still, great Canadian cheeses aside, Monsieur Lebovitz, you are living my dream!

  • The picture of the girl cutting the Pyrénées cheese is absolutely fabulous.

  • Funny you should mention Laurent Dubois on Saint Germain. We always stop there while in Paris, but always resisted getting anything cryo-vaced. I figure most cheese would look like “plastique” explosives on x-ray, and I didn’t think I could explain why our plane wouldn’t leave the gate because of a nice collection of chevre and comte vacuum packed in my check-in bags. My wife also got her first lesson in “Don’t Touch The Merchandise” shopping in their cheese boutique. They have got great product and it is displayed well. I am not sure that anything that is vac-packed for the flight home would actually make it on the plane in the first place. It is real easy to drop a small fortune in their store, even easier to nibble it away with all the other goodies available in the 5th.

  • Great post…and, a great recipe…
    One of the most satisfying experiences in adapting to Parisian life is being able to navigate the formalities of your local cheese store, and slowly taste test (the horror!) the ash covered/black cracked pepper corn/green pepper corn/hard rind/nut et al goat cheeses, there might be 20 odd in their window on any given day; the cantals/Gruyeres/tommes,hard whites et al., insisting on small slices of these last, stored away in a cool cupboard, never the refrigerator (if you have the time to shop every other day or so). All those individually, heavy white paper,wrapped treasures, brought home with your bread and veg/meat…the complete and fresh face of the meal to come. Unique and wonderful.

  • I’ve been on vacation and away from regular e-mail access so what a treat to return to your blog and read about goat cheese. I love any riff on warmed cheese–brie, for instance or chevre chaud. This technique looks tasty. Miam! Keep up the wonderful, wonderful posts David.

    It’s interesting to see how many local goat dairies there are in the U.S. Here is another good one in North Carolina:

    http://www.celebritydairy.com/dairy/dairy_main.htm

  • I’ve been here a while but first time commenting..
    This recipe looks divine and reminds me of the ‘Fromage de chevre’ we bought from the market in Cavaillon (a one week honeymoon in Provence back in spring)
    It was very fresh, coated with coriander, chili flakes and mustard seeds. Delicious..

    Thank you for the lovely idea!

  • When Bush got re-elected, I went online immediately, looking for information on French or Canadian citizenship. But I also happened to be reading at the time a book with a subtitle of “Why We Love France But Hate The French,” and while it underscored American ignorance and spoiled self-indulgence without meaning to, it also gave me a reality check on moving to another country. I’d probably fit in, because I don’t seem to be fitting in here much anymore, but still, it’s not quite what one’s dreams are made of.

    This warmed goat cheese sounds great. I just bought some to marinate, so — great timing! — I will try this. I marinate either with fresh herbs, or sometimes dried fines herbes or herbes de provence along with some juniper berries. I’m making anchoiade and some gougeres for a dinner party tomorrow, so will save some and try the goat cheese selfishly at home with the salad, marinated cherry tomatoes, and a baguette. Et le vin. Toujours le vin.

  • David, this is not apropos anything to do with fromage. I moved from SF to New Orleans last year and I’m having one specific culinary issue:

    Most of the bakeries here seem to be under the impression that croissants are a raised dough, like a bun, rather than the croissants which I know, love and dread from DeLessio.

    What is your favorite butter croissant recipe?

    Crankily yours,
    Gira

  • I also recommend Laurent Dubois, and have my own story about their vacuum. I went with my friend a couple days before leaving Paris. She bought several cheeses and had them wrapped. I asked about butter: would they wrap it? Which butters did they have? (only a couple) It would keep well for the journey, right? (yes) Should I freeze it first? (nah). So then the daring question: if I brought a kilo of my favorite butter, from another fromager, would they wrap it for me? A look of consternation ensued. They would have to charge for it. Would I buy something else chez Laurent Dubois? (of course!) The answer then was: oui, monsieur, we understand. If it is your favorite butter and we do not sell it, it only makes sense that you should bring it and have it wrapped with whatever else you purchase from us. I bought a cone of boulette d’avesnes fermier, which blew me away and left me hungry to return to France/Belgium.

  • Gira: I don’t make croissants, since in France, they’re so available and only cost abotu 90 centimes. But people swear by the recipe in the book: Tartine, if you want to give a go at making your own.

    john: What was funny (and kind of shocking) was when I bought those 3 cheese at the top of the page, on the platter, they came to about €18. As you know, that’s a lot for France. But one thing I’ve learned here, is that you shouldn’t skimp on paying for cheese. And believe me, each of those was worth it. (Especially the Beaufort d’été, in the back, which was insanely-good.)

    ritanyc: That article was interesting, but it did neglect to mention that if you’re a French citizen, you’re paying les charges, or a percentage of your income for health care. If you’re a foreigner, they simply treat you because that’s what they do. (Even if you’re not in the system.)

    craigkite: A friend who is a customs agent said that the unofficial position about bringing cheese into the states is that you can do it, as long as it’s in quantities that are obviously not for resale. I do it all the time and have never been detained or had it taken away.

    dana: The paperwork is astounding. I don’t know how French people do it. But I am pretty sure that some people are getting pretty rich off of it.

    Like, big time..

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/rerebonjour/3665804234/sizes/m/

    Think you might find this picture as funny as we did (snapped on the door of a Lyon bank).

  • Loved this post. I moved to la belle France with my family from Beirut in the seventies. I remember my astonishment at hearing Madame Martinez in the charcuterie yelling at her customers: ” un petit crottin pour vous Madame Lefranc?” ( I half expected her to produce goat cheese dung wrapped up in papier de soie) Later, we discovered the marché in Melun and the wheels of Brie de Melun et de Meau. I still think that French cheese tastes best when someone brings it to you straight from the farm…
    I am gonna have to buy your books, your writing is too alléchant.

  • David…
    One of the reasons I love your book, and The Tales on your site, is that the Paris you know and live, is so close to the one I experienced. Francs back then & 1st class cars on the Metro (imagine!), but those cheeses stay the same and that’s what counts.over the long haul. The unchanging quality of flavor and detail that is so important to life in your beautiful and wonderful city. Damn the paperwork! john

  • Who doesn’t love a story about cheese, any story, any cheese …. that is accompanied by a photo of a woman cutting cheese ….. with beautiful breasts. Thank you!

  • Love the savory bits, and I love this story. I have the same relationship with San Francisco. Some days the weather and arrogance kill me. Other days there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be. Luckily the latter are more common.

    Cheers!

  • This is where I say “AMEN, BROTHER!” – It’s easy in retrospect to idealize or glamourize a locale, but when dealing with the day-to-day I sometimes wonder WHY I continue to put up with IT (it being any number of things), but then I remember, “Oh yeah, It’s been my life dream to live in Europe!” It’s not always easy, but it’s always an adventure!

  • Kristine: I hadn’t noticed those–I was too busy looking at the cheese!

    john: Ha! I remember those first-class métro cars. Now that’s a blast from the past. I think they were necessary (and I also think women were allowed to ride on them gratuit) so they wouldn’t get bothered by the men : 0

  • Ha! Two American *lady* tourists got on in Neuilly (#1 line started there then), and one immediately, in a very loud voice, started declaiming “hold on to you purse Mabel, hold on to your purse!” (you could hear her all over the car in the quiet before it started) Finally told her to shut up as the other ladies in the car really didn’t have an interest in them or their tacky purses. That rudeness knife cuts both ways.
    There was some saints day in Winter/Feb. or so when the Swedes would invade Paris and be quite drunk and loud, always a time to offer up a prayer of thanks…one French women clucked her tongue and said sotto vocce to her companion “Les Americaines”… It was necessary to correct her very quickly with a “No, no Madame, les Suedois, les Suedois!”…that got a very satisfying nod and “ahhhh” before we started off….

  • David, I so appreciate your comments on loving Paris, warts and all. I lived in Paris for a year some time ago and just returned this summer, and I found that I had conveniently forgotten some of the warts. But, as you said, it is breathtakingly beautiful, and in my view, its fabulousness far outweighs its flaws. I really enjoy your blog, and having just purchased an ice cream maker I’ll have to check out your ice cream book! Thanks.

  • Thank goodness for you, David. I hate it when I go home and my mom brags to people: “This is my daughter, she lives in Paris.” The response is always: “Oooooh you live in Paaaaris? What’s it liiiiike?”

    I hate to deflate people’s fantasies, but no matter where you live you have laundry to wash and bills to pay! Thanks for keeping it real!

  • I had no idea raw milk cheeses were on the decline in France too! It is quite sad that there are very few places to buy them here in the states. I mean, I live in a state where it is actually illegal to buy raw milk period. So I just drive up to Pennsylvania to buy mine ;)

    I have just started making my own cheeses, meaning I have started off with the much easier ones like ricotta, mascarpone, mozzarella etc. but I can’t wait to make my own aged cheeses as well and really want to start making goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses.

    This recipe sounds divine. I think I will probably make it with panko bread crumbs though just because bread around my house usually doesn’t last long enough to go stale! We are carb eaters over here!

  • Another wonderful post! A bit of advice is requested, though: When I made this in the past, I sometimes found that the goat cheese would split when I tried to cut through it, leaving me with goat cheese fragments rather than rounds. Is this a problem of technique? Should I warm the knife or bring the cheese to room temperature? Thanks!

  • David, Welcome back to Paris, and what a charming and informative post. Loads of good info and a very astute take on the rose-with-thorns aspect of living in Paris.
    I adore melted goat cheese with a good mesclun salad, too, and eat it with toasted country bread brushed with olive oil, sea salt and herbes de Provence. A tres vite, Alec

  • A hit with the family tonight – thanks for the sweet & simple recipe – perfect for a summer evening even in foggy Berkeley. To the person commenting on goat cheese fragments, I cut the cheese and shape it into little patties with my hands. A bit of water makes it nice and smooth.

  • These people rock http://www.fifthtown.ca/ … going (again) soon. Just down the road from http://www.countycider.com/

    The two together are heaven.

  • Hi David,
    I know it’s not the same as working at a fromagerie in Paris, but my wife and I have a pretty decent cheese and wine shop about 40 miles south of Austin, TX in New Braunfels. You can work at our cheese shop anytime you’re in town.

  • I love this dish — it reminds me of one I prepare out of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook.