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Sainte-Maure de Touraine

Sainte-Maure de Touraine

Sainte-Maure de Touraine from Libert

A classic of the Loire Valley is the instantly recognizable Sainte-Maure de Touraine. Produced from raw goat’s milk, it has a tubular shape with a piece of rye straw running through its long axis. Americans who are unfamiliar with cheese will at least suspect that it’s made from goat’s milk, as the tubular shape is what we typically associate with goat’s cheese from the supermarket, notwithstanding the fact that supermarket cheeses in the US are generally awful.

Sainte-Maure de Touraine is fairly common in France. During our travels to the Loire Valley, it was available as a selection on most restaurant cheese plates (which we often decided to forego for other options), and it’s a staple in most fromageries.

Part of the chèvre section at Fromagerie Libert

The cheese shown in these photos is from Libert, which has a large selection of excellent goat’s milk cheeses particularly from the Loire Valley.

You can read more about the history and fabrication Sainte-Maure de Touraine at Androuet.com, the website of the famed French fromagers, an indispensable resource for cheese lovers.

About the Cheese

Milk: Goat (raw)

Firmness: Semi firm

Defining characteristics: Sainte-Maure de Touraine is tubular in shape with a piece of rye straw running through it. It has the distinctive moderately pungent smell and tangy taste of goat’s cheese. The ones I’ve eaten have tended to be on the drier side, though not crumbly. Its taste warms the mouth like many moderately aged goat’s cheeses.

Traditional accompaniments: I find goat’s cheeses to be great for snacking on with a crusty baguette and any sort of light olives, or cocktail or sun-dried tomatoes, or fruit like cherry and figs. Of course they go well with salads, too.  Red wines from the Loire region, like a bright Chinon, are a great choice.

Origin: From the ancient region of Touraine, near the town of Tours, but eponymously named for the chef-lieu of the Indre-et-Loire department.

Special factsSainte-Maure de Touraine is subject to strict guidelines under the French AOC (appellation d’origine controlée) designation. The guidelines relate to geographical origin and fabrication and are designed to guarantee the continuity of traditional food products. It has also earned the AOP distinction (appellation d’origine protégée), a European Union designation essentially equivalent to AOC.

Recipes: Goat’s cheeses are ubiquitous in French cooking and are frequently found in starters like croustillant de chèvre or on top of salads.

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