Jul 28, 2014

The Wow Factor: Tricorne

There's an old expression in France -- "chapeau!" -- which means "wow!" The word "chapeau" itself, simple means hat, and why the added exclamation point turns is from "hat" to "wow!" is hard to understand. Until you see these hats.

The owner of Le Grain de Sable (Grain of Sand) makes these beauties by hand. I can't say I would know how or where to wear one, but I do recognize their creativity and beauty.
When I first see the store, I can't quite imagine who does buy or wear them, besides perhaps the British tourists. Don't they wear a lot of these fancy little hats? But then I see a photo shoot where the model is wearing a gorgeous, fancy hat, and I figure it's only a matter of time before it's a retro fashion trend hitting your nearest mall.
Or, perhaps, these hats will remain outdated, and you'll never actually see them on the streets. Much like you'll never hear anybody say the extremely outdated expression "chapeau!" nowadays to mean "wow!"
THE CHEESE: Tricorne
Tricorne is a raw goat's milk cheese made in the north of Deux-Sèvres, and sometimes the southern edge of the Charente Maritime, quite possibly the best region in France for goat's cheese. The name is easy to enough to decipher, given the shape of the cheese. It's ancestors in the area have been known since at least the 17th century, called "Trébêche", "Sableau", or "Trois-Cornes".
The cheese can also come in a sheep's milk version, though, the production of this is very rare and, in fact, it may only be produced by one remaining farmhouse. I've even read that there is a mixed cow's milk-sheep's milk version, also produced very rarely.
The best time to find, buy, and eat Tricorne is in the spring and summer, between May and September. It's a fresh, lactic cheese with a mildly acid tang and a sweetly milky, savory flavor. It's creamy and just melts in the mouth.

As far as I know, it's the only French cheese named after a hat. Not a girls' fancy hat, mind you, but rather one of these old-fashioned doo-dahs -- a rather outdated chapeau. What a connection! Chapeau!


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