Apr 11, 2014

Your Menu Tonight: Chèvre du Pilat


I don't want to ruin the surprise, but when you visit my home in Paris, this is what I will serve you for dinner. You'll notice I didn't say "cook for you." Somebody else is doing the cooking. One night, there will be a roast chicken. The smell of these on the streets is tantalizing.

If I can, I will buy it from my favorite place in the 5th arrondissement. And I'm not telling you where it is, because it's a tiny spot, where the roast chickens are significantly more delicious, juicier, herbier, and even slightly less expensive than the more obvious butchers and sellers of charcuterie (such as the one photographed here).

The leftovers make the best chicken soup in the world. I'm being selfish and don't want to broadcast the location, because then I'll never be able to get a chicken there. But if you contact me individually, I might be nice enough to tell you where to find it.


Another night, there will be wonderful pâtés, terrines, and various meats en croûte. Like these pictured, I'll probably buy them at Au Sanglier, a high-end, artisanal charcuterie at 49 Rue Saint-Antoine in the Marais.

And, of course -- need I even say it? -- there will be a cheese platter, probably after we have the lighter meal of terrines and pates. Or maybe, if you're with us a third night, simply served with salads.

I may, or may not, remember to put out napkins and glasses. But there's always cheese.

THE CHEESE: Chèvre du Pilat

Chèvre du Pilat is a small cheese, made in small batches, in a small number of farms, in the Pilat, a protected mountainous countryside in the Rhône-Alpes. Therefore, it's sold only in a few shops, and information about it is very difficult to find. From talking to people in the store, what I do know is that the cheese is made in the style of a Rigotte do Condrieu -- a raw milk goat's cheese -- but comes from a different region and therefore has slight variations in the characteristics.

Chèvre du Pilat is a firm goat cheese -- sliceable and creamy only in the mouth. The one I buy and try is white, as pictured, and has a mild goat flavor with herb and pepper tones. On other days, I've seen this same cheese aged till it's almost green-brown, and the taste would be far more peppery and salty, and the texture even firmer to the point of crunchy.


Ironically, you won't get this cheese when you visit my house for dinner, because I try to avoid repeating cheeses; I do have to taste 365 of them over the year, after all. So my friend Andi got this cheese, but you'll get something different.

Also, ironically, Andi is one of the only guests I've ever not served the roast chicken meal and duck liver mousse, because she's vegetarian. My cheeses and I just thank our lucky stars that she's not vegan.


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