May 4, 2014

For the Birds: Pavé du Cardinal


In the square in front of Notre Dame there lives a whole flock of sparrows. Well, at least they seem to live there any time the bird-feeding guy is around. The birds must be trained to know what's in his backpack, because even before he brings out food, they swarm around him. He happily gives out cookies and treats for the kids to feed to the birds. The diet doesn't seem so healthy for sparrows (or any other creature for that matter). He doesn't charge for the food, but of course we always tip him anyway.

Gigi is like Dr. Doolittle. Or Snow White. Whichever fictional character you want to compare her to, she seems to draw animals to her. She is always the one who has the greatest success with feedings. At this point, she just holds her hand out and birds appear.

Pippa, on the other hand, seems surprised every time.


It's a fun thing to do with visiting friends, especially when the weather's nice, and we suspect that kids find it one of the more memorable parts of their vacation here.

THE CHEESE: Pavé du Cardinal
Pavé du Cardinal is a farmhouse raw milk goat's cheese from Berry, in the center of France, near the Indre, Cher, and Loire rivers. This is goat country, and the Ferme Chevrieux makes the most of it with this delicious, snowy white, ash-covered cheese. It follows the tradition of other local ash-covered cheeses like Selles-sur-Cher, which were coated -- originally -- with the ash leftover from grape vines burned after harvest. Now, it's just a light sprinkling of food-grade ash, and in any event, it's not an old cheese but rather a more recent invention.
Pavé du Cardinal is creamy and delicious, and you can even see in the photo how the delicate rind separates from the interior. The layer of cheese at the edge turns to ooze at room temperature, and that is 100% a great thing. It's delicious, buttery, wet and creamy, savory and goaty, but not overpowering. If you like goat cheeses, this is a striking, delicious one, and you should grab it when you see it, because it's hard to find.
Why Pavé du Cardinal? Well, the bird-feeding happens on the pavé -- the cobblestones -- in front of Notre Dame. Though the birds that reside here, or at least visit, are sparrows not cardinals, the square is home to the marker that notes the center of Paris, and points in the cardinal directions. And because Notre Dame is Paris' most important cathedral, it's the kind of place a Cardinal would visit.


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