Tag Archives: Shrek

Row, row, row your La Gabarre gently down the Loire…

12 Jul
How cute is this?

How cute is this? There’s goats in the boat!

Isn’t it so much better when something has novelty value? Personally I’m a sucker for a dinky back story and this thick and creamy goats cheese from the Loire Valley is no exception.

My flatmate and I went to La Cave a Fromage in South Kensington (it’s basically our new favourite hang out) with one mission- to get a new cheese to replace our depleted Comte. We wanted it to be strong but subtle, more of a swimmer than a bodybuilder, a real contender for our tastebuds but sensitive to our fridge’s delicate olfactory balance (i.e. we didn’t want our vegetables smelling like cheese).

We were met by cheese man extroadinaire David from Portugal who patiently answered our questions, let us try whichever cheese we pointed to and then acted interested when I told him I was out on a very important cheese blogging mission.

Your friendly local cheese team- Kat and David!

Your friendly local cheese team- Kat and David!

After watching us mooch about the shop for circa 8 minutes contemplating which cheese was best to bring home to our needy fridge and experiencing first hand Comte’s awkward phase with a disappointing tasting (kind of like being told on parents evening that Comte wasn’t really working hard enough) David decided to take matters into his own hands and leading us away from the creamy goats cheeses took us to the front of the shop where he confronted us with La Gabarre– a dense goats cheese shaped like a dodgy brick.

He then proceeded to tell us why the cheese was shaped like it was. Back in ye olden days wine was transported throughout the Loire Valley on flat bottomed wooden boats called Gabarre. My novelty-loving side was already doing an excited dance– this cheese was not just a cheese but a cultural homage! When I found out that goats were also transported on these boats to graze on the Loire’s islands I was sold- a goats cheese inspired from a boat to transport a goat– it was lyrical and poetic and to be honest I was going to buy it regardless of what it tasted like (yes, I am a salespersons dream).

Is it a boat? Is it a cheese?

Is it a boat? Is it a cheese?

Luckily the cheese was more than just a historical back story and actually tasted delicious. Thick and dense, biting into this was kind of like drowning your mouth in a vat of goats butter. If it wasn’t a cheese it could probably have had a career being glue. It certainly sticks to the roof of your mouth.

The cheese had a slight vinegary, tangy flavour. Kind of like the sour candy of the cheese world. However, there was also a sweet element to it so the tanginess was not overbearing. It’s a bit of a mysterious flavour and I recommend trying it for yourself as whilst trying to decide what it most tasted like I ended up eating the whole thing in one sitting. This cheese is a sneaky one- not only was I duped by its back story, but also by its enigmatic taste. 

Much like an onion, or a tiered cake, or Shrek this cheese also had layers. There was the mouldy grainy exterior, a creamy yellow-ish outer layer followed by the dense butter like interior.

mmmm dense

mmmm dense

Ironically, La Gabarre’s density would sink the ship-shaped cheese so be warned not to play boats on the river with it.

So a quick Youtube search later I actually found a song about a goat on a boat with a stoat!

It is actually very surprising how much Youtube churns up when you search ‘goat in a boat’!

P.S. After reading a blog about Belgian beer I found out that La Gabarre goes best with a nice strong bitter. Big up the beer and cheese combos! http://belgium.beertourism.com/blog/cheese-and-beer-a-marriage-made-in-heaven

J’adore Rocamadour!

9 Apr
Rocamadour fda.jpg

By the way, this is not my picture. I found it on Rocamadour's Wikipedia page. Hopefully the copyright men and women don't come and find me.

No, the picture above is not a setting for a real life version of Tangled or Shrek. No princesses await their princes in lofty towers looking out across the sun-kissed landscape hoping for their day of freedom to come. This fairytale setting is in fact a lovely little village entitled Rocamadour that had been visited for centuries ‘due to it’s historical buildings and a sanctuary for the Blessed Virgin Mary’ (thank you Wikipedia for your bountiful knowledge and delights). Back in the day Pilgrims to visit this sight did include Kings and bishops, but I’m going to be blasphemous and question these pilgrim’s intentions.

For you see not only does this picturesque wonderland house historical monuments and far-reaching views across Southern France’s Dordogne region, it is also home to a rather scrumptious goats cheese of the same name. Kings and bishops may have said that they wanted to travel afar to visit the Virgin’s sanctuary, but I bet you anything they also filled up the village’s cheesy delights before heading home.

Well, my parents went on a ‘pilgrimage’ to France last month and brought back loads of tasty cheese goodies- three packets of Rocamadour included. Luckily, the cheese is available in all the local supermarkets nowadays so you don’t need religious excuses to get a taste. As you can see from the above picture the cheese comes in a wooden box- as said in a previous post, a wooden box is usually a sign of tastiness to come. Rural and yet stylishly so a wooden box epitomises class and timeless originality. Rightly so for this cheese as it was awarded Appelation d’origine contrôlée in 1996. This translates to controlled designation of origin; in other words the cheese is now specifically associated with it’s traditional birthplace so no-one can hi-jack it for themselves and get all the credit like a no good cheese recipe stealing scoundrel.

The goats cheese itself is circular with a thin rind housing a splendidly soft creamy paste that oozes all over it’s wooden box when left out of the fridge. It is good in salads, on toast, with walnuts, with honey, by itself, maybe not so much dipped in Marmite…I’ve even been to a restaurant in France called La Meynardie where they made it into ice-cream! The small, circular shape of the cheese gives it a gourmet feeling as do all things good that come in ridiculously tiny portions. It is not unknown to eat a whole packet in one sitting. The taste is pretty farmyard-y; it doesn’t mess about. Yet, somehow it does not overpower. The perfect cheese for a summer picnic by a bubbling brook but just as equally perfect for a winter’s evening by the fire with a bottle (glass?) of red wine. Just don’t take it on a long sweaty hike as you may find only a pile of ooze at the bottom of your ruck-sack by the time you settle down to eat it. And again, bag licking is not deemed couth in polite society

And OH MY GOD- a French man has even written a song about Rocamadour- no lie. From my basic French I can determine that he is talking about meeting his ‘amour’ in the ‘Grotte de Rocamadour’ and how it is sunny and pretty. Listen carefully and I’ll bet he says something about ‘fromage’. Maybe that’s how he lured her there, that or his sexy accordion. 

If this crazy French man’s video and the fact that Rocamadour rhymes with both ‘Amour’ and ‘Adore’ don’t make you want to go out and bulk buy massive packets of the goaty medallions I don’t know what will!