Mar 20, 2014

The Castliest Castles: Tomme Pur Chèvre Périgordine


Our castle day in the Dordogne starts at Château de Beynac (in Beynac-et-Casenac), whose most famous resident was Richard I, a.k.a. Richard the Lion-Hearted, King of England. He lived here from 1189 till his death in 1199. To get to and from the castle, we pass about a dozen others. Choosing a castle to visit here is rather like choosing a tree to climb in a forest.

Though open to the public for viewing, Château de Beynac is still a private castle -- first inhabited by the Baron Maynard in 1115 and owned by Lucius-Grosso et Dionysia-Uxor Sua since 1961. A plaque at the castle proclaims that Lucius-Grosso et Dionysia-Uxor Sua is just one person - name  notwithstanding -- who still resides in part of the castle; however, one can imagine he'd need the money from tourists to pay for the upkeep, since he can no longer raid, pillage, plunder and tax the local serfs for this purpose. He'll also take your money if you want to use it for your major motion picture; in 1998, it was used as a location for Luc Besson's Joan of Arc. And with good reason. The castle towers over the town and, from every angle and every distance, looks, in Anthony's words, "like the most castle-like castle ever."

Anthony is also dead set on seeing the Château de Castelnaud (at Castelnaud-la-Chapelle) which contains the Musée de la Guerre au Moyen Age (Museum of Warfare in the Middle Ages). (I was about to translate that as "Middle Age Warfare" but it sounds too much like Anthony and me having a series of big arguments....). The name "Castelnaud" means "New Castle", but it's anything but new: it was founded in the 12th century. On the grounds, they set off a trébuchet with a small bouncy ball, and Anthony has to correct me when I translate trébuchet as catapult. Apparently a trébuchet is a trebuchet, and a catapult is something else. Who knew? Well, Anthony did, obviously. You can say what you want about gender differences being artificially manufactured, but I suspect that's the kind of thing most girls wouldn't know (or care about) and most boys would.  At least the girls and boys in my household...


Anthony has a smile on his face and a bounce in his step all day. I feel like I'm seeing what he must have been like at age 12. And no wonder: As he says, this day is every young boy's dream, involving castles, trebuchets, crenellated fortress walls, drawbridges, crossbows, knights, chainmail, armor, and Richard the Lionhearted. And the girls and I enjoy it too. So, yeah, I guess you'd call it a success.
THE CHEESE: Tomme Pur Chèvre Périgordine
Tomme Pur Chèvre Périgordine or, as it really should be spelled, Périgourdine is a local Dordogne cheese made, as the name suggest, from pure goat's milk. Dordogne is the general name for the area, whereas Périgord is the official name of the department. While Dordogne is the more colloquial term, they can be used interchangeably, as you can see from this Périgordine cheese whose origins are listed as "Dordogne".
Other Tomme de Chèvres from the Alps often more closely resemble a hard cow's cheese. This cheese, by contrast, has a brainy white mold on the outside and is more delicate than a mountain cheese. Nevertheless, it's still far less delicate than a soft, small goat cheese. Both the flavor and texture are between the two extremes as well: firm and crumbly yet creamy; tangy, goaty, and savory.

The cheese I really want to use for this posting is a Coeur de Lion triangle that I can buy in any supermarket, named in honor of Richard the Lionhearted (Richard le Coeur de Lion), but alas, it's a Camembert, which I've already used, and therefore out of bounds. Zut alors!
So instead, I choose a cheese that's pure Périgord, and in this case pure goat cheese, too. Nothing is more purely Périgord than these lovely castles, looming on practically each hilltop, speckled generously throughout the region.


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