Apr 10, 2014

La Ville en Rose: Chèvre au Piment Espelette


Spring has sprung in Paris. That means not just tourists, but also several shades of pink popping out around the city. It's both la vie en rose and la ville en rose.

The pink makes everything more beautiful. Everything.

I am botanically inept, so it takes me a while to find even a couple names of the pink blossoms I commonly see, other than the rhododendron which is so conveniently labeled at the plant shop. Starting upper left: roses, crabapple, rhododendron, mystery flowers among the daffodils, magnolia, mystery tree pom-poms, ranunculus, mystery tree with both white & pink blossoms, mystery magenta-pink tree, and tulips. Did I get anything correct in there? If you can identify (or correct) any of these pink beauties, please comment or contact me!

And a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a conundrum: What is the mystery pink-red feathery-leaf tree that's surrounding the mystery fluffy-pink tree blossoms?
It's not all pink, of course. But what's not pink in color is pink in spirit. It makes Paris feel like a diva stretching and waking up from her long winter nap.
You might recognize this monument amidst the spring bloom.

But what would my vie en rose (Life in Pink) in the ville en rose (City in Pink) be without a little Notre Dame en rose?
THE CHEESE: Chèvre au Piment Espelette

This beautiful, pinkish-hued raw milk goat's cheese hails from Poitou-Charentes.

A small, oval, soft goat's cheese covered with a pepper-flecked crust, it is not to be confused with the similarly named Tomme de Chèvre au Piment d’Espelette des Pyrénées, which is a large, round, semi-hard goat cheese with a center vein of pepper spread (pictured below). Even more confusingly, they can both be labeled Chèvre au Piment Espelette or, really, any similar variant.

Poitou-Charentes is the home of many fine goat cheeses. Like other cheeses from this region, the Chèvre au Piment Espelette has a delicate, thin rind -- in this case covered with the zingy pepper flecks. So by all means, eat the crust! That's the whole gimmick of this cheese, and it would be a shame to avoid it. The texture inside is a combination of creamy and oozy, depending on the temperature. It's a delicious goat cheese with a delightful little kick that will put a spring in your step.


Just like the plant life and the weather, cheeses come in and out with the seasons. A great question to ask any high-quality cheesemonger is, "What cheese is in season right now?" Now only do you get something fresh and just at the right time, but you also get to eat something that might well be out of stock and impossible to find at other times of the year. The variety of goat cheeses, in particular, grows exponentially in the spring. So Chèvre au Piment Espelette -- my fromage en rose -- is something else pink you'll find popping out in the springtime in Paris.


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