It is my pleasure to announce the French region where we here at Croque-Camille will be spending November: the Languedoc! This is another one (like Bourgogne) that I’ve been looking forward to almost all year. My original plan has written “November – cassoulet.” Of course I had to do a little digging to figure out which region, exactly, cassoulet exemplifies, so here we are in the Languedoc.
The Languedoc is a fairly large region that comprises a lot of the Southwestern part of France. It stretches from the Spanish/Catalan border all the way to the Rhône river – the old capital was Toulouse, the new one Montpellier. The region gets its name from the language used there prior to the French Revolution: Occitan. Occitan is a romance language whose use was most widespread in the medieval period. It was distinguished from dialects further North by the way they said “yes.” In Occitan, they say “oc,” while in old French, they said “oi,” which became the present-day “oui.” Get it? Langue d’oc. (Thank you, class in medieval French literature. Who knew I’d ever need that tidbit again?)
Now, it just so happens that I correspond regularly in the blogosphere with an amateur cheese expert (oxymoron? Nah.) who lives in the Languedoc. I wrote to her for advice on regional cheeses, and among her suggestions was Cathare, a goat’s cheese embellished with an Occitan Cross, the symbol of the region.
Cathare is a raw-milk cheese, aged only a couple of weeks (sorry Americans – it’s unavailable in the US due to silly regulatory laws). The rind is thin and wrinkly, with ash coating only the top of the slim wheel. The cheese just inside the completely edible rind is smooth and gooey, while the inside is just a bit firmer and drier. The cheese definitely has that goaty tang with a hint of chalkiness, but the flavor is full and rich. The ash contributes no grittiness, as is always my (generally unfounded) fear. It would be nicely complimented by a dry yet fruity white wine.
It should come as no surprise that I am sending this in to La Fête du Fromage Chez Loulou. As always, look for the roundup on the 15th – there’s always something new!
Originally published on Croque-Camille.