Oh.My.Heavens. Chèvre. Isn’t that another word for Goat Cheese? The first goat cheese I ever tried was almost the last: someone I shared a lot of meals with once handed me a chunk of brownish chèvre and urged me to "try some of this amazing goat cheese”. I took a small nibble, and spent the rest of the week trying to get the taste out of my mouth. It really did taste like a well-aged goat carcass. Many years later I was finally emboldened to try a bit of fresh chèvre, and was delighted that I didn’t gag. Although I must say… I have never gotten too crazy in love with it either.
Until I was writing this post, I had never realized that opinions about chèvre were so polarized. There is something otherworldly about this cheese and it seems like you either love it or hate it. Now that chèvre is trendy, I can see how some goat cheese lovers might want boast that they are (goat cheese lovers) as a way of highlighting their foodie sophisticated-ness. On the other hand, I can also understand why many others seem to have an aversion to this cheese. A bit of surfing on the net revealed these gems relating to the taste of chèvre:
- "It’s like what the beard of the billy goat smells of since he has been "spraying" it." (Haha)
- "It’s unbearably musty and the smell reminds me of something mildew-y that desperately needs to be cleaned out."
- "It’s totally disgusting and gamey."
Goat cheese is definitely something that for many of us takes time to appreciate. So instead of tossing this week's French Fridays with Dorie’s Tourteau de Chèvre recipe to the "Try-Another-Day" bin, I decided to give goat cheese another chance. Dorie’s first-time experience with this dish swayed me, and I too wished for it to surprise me.
For the record, I sort of winged the measurements for the filling. Why? Because I have this adorable 4-inch springform baking pan that’s only slightly larger than my palm. And this being a goat cheese tart (meaning, I would be the only one within a five-mile radius who would be eating it), I decided to use the miniature pan for practicality's sake. The size dictated that I use only 1 egg, 200g of chèvre and no cornstarch and/or extra flavoring.
I couldn’t get hold of plain chèvre but did find a marinated version – I might have spotted unidentified herbs and red bell peppers in the marinade…eeks! Although Dorie’s recipe meant for this tourteau to be a dessert, what I ended up with was something in between sweet and savory.
Ms. Jenny J, I stood under the hot, tropical sun with my tourteau and 5-inch heels - just for you.
Now don’t declare me insane as I’m about to throw this bag of logic your way. I made the crust with black sesame powder (ground sesame seeds) because of its pronounced nutty taste, and I did this because cheese normally pairs well with nuts. I’ve also never cooked goat meat in my life but the closest I have gotten to doing so is lamb, and whenever I’ve cooked lamb I always sprinkle thyme to complement its gamey flavor. Using this line of thinking, I’ve included toasted fresh thyme in this recipe - a little bit sprinkled on the crust and on top of soft, dried figs tied the flavors together brilliantly. A drizzle of acacia honey across the fig topping completed the dish.
Oh by the way, did you notice the really funky pink and black apron above? That was sent over by Ms. Jenny J. of Vintage Sugarcube, selflessly sharing her fabulosity across many oceans. We’ve been friends since I first started blogging nearly a year ago and I simply treasure her friendship and convent-school wit. If you haven’t yet discovered her blog, just hop over there and ogle at her over-the-top creativity (and hairdo!).
I’ve had tiny slices of this tourteau and while my expectations were not high to start with, the chèvre, with all the other flavor combinations, have managed to pleasantly surprise me. Still… and I want to be truthful when I say this… I can’t wait to return to the comfort of cow cheese ;-).
Interested to know how the other FFWD members’ tourteaus turned out and if anyone actually substituted the chèvre with something else? Click here to find out.