Fromagerie Tournevent, a French-Canadian producer of artisan goat cheeses in Quebec, makes several different types of goat cheese, from fresh to aged. But it’s their Chèvre Fin, a soft-ripened goat cheese, that really won me over.
Chèvre Fin took first place in its category this year at the American Cheese Society’s national competition, and it’s easy to see why: This cheese combines the appealingly tangy qualities of good goat’s milk cheese with the silky, pungent characteristics of the best soft-ripened cheese. During Chèvre Fin’s two weeks or so of aging, it gets sprayed with a mold that gives it a soft, bloomy rind on the outside (the rind is perfectly edible). This also causes the cheese to age from the outside in (when you slice the cheese, you’ll notice that the inside turns from creamy to fluffy as you go towards the center of the cheese.)
Fromagerie Tournevent heats its milk in double vats (imagine a giant double boiler) so that the milk never comes in direct contact with heat. It’s this gentle pasteurization that helps preserve the natural flavors of goat’s milk, which are lost when pasteurization occurs at higher temperatures.
When Chèvre Fin is served cool, it has a light and fluffy texture that gets creamier as the cheese comes to room temperature. Either way, it’s delicious. Try it with a salad of mixed greens (how about arugula, Bibb lettuce, and some whole parsley leaves thrown in?), and a hunk of crusty sourdough.
The cheese arrived in really good shape, despite a trip from Canada: it wasn’t wet or gummy as is lots of the goat cheese you come across. Tournevent makes their goat cheese a bit firmer (with slightly lower moisture content) than that of some large-scale commercial operations, and this goes a long way toward great flavor and texture: Unlike some goat cheeses, Chèvre Fin doesn’t get watery as it sits in its plastic packaging. Rather than vacuum-packing the cheese, Fromagerie Tournevent uses semipermeable cellophane wrap, which allows the cheese to breathe a bit and thus stay in better shape longer.
In its more than twenty years in business, Fromagerie Tournevent has grown from a small farmstead operation to using milk from several different herds. But they haven’t sacrificed quality or an artisan approach. “We’re still pretty ‘granola’ about everything,” says John Eggena, a former goat farmer and one of the partners, “and we still turn the cheese by hand.”
Chèvre Fin is available at Whole Foods and Fresh Fields stores and at fine cheese shops. For more information about where to find it, visit www.chevre-tournevent.qc.ca or call 819-382-2208.