I met Laure Fourgeaud who makes the cheeses at the farm. She invited me into her amazing world. Nowadays it is not that simple to find the real taste of a product. With the growing amount of industrial food being produced, people don’t know what the authentic taste should be anymore. Laure summarized the situation well: “today it becomes weird to taste the real thing.”
As a member of the Culinary College, she fights for the authenticity and the taste of the products everyday by promoting her friends’ products but also by making amazing authentic cheeses. Her cheeses were selected by 15 renowned starred chefs in France, so by using “amazing” I feel like I am not over exaggerating.
In my opinion three words would reflect the authenticity of her cheeses: organic, homemade and generosity.
Beyond the organic label, Laure considers her products to be “organic” because the entire process of making cheese is eco-friendly. From the living environment of the 260 goats to the final product getting ready to be sold, nothing has been exposed to any pesticides or synthetic fertilizer throughout the process. The animals are all well respected and when there is no milk, there is simply no cheese. It is something clearly constraining for a producer with demands but in the Chatain farm the nature is never forced which makes it even more authentic.
The making of the cheese is all handmade without the use of machines. Each cheese is moulded by Laure in her lab. I had the chance to get into it and I can tell you the process is long without the aid of machines but this is what a good product requires to become the best: patience and passion. After she salts them one by one, over the course of the next day it’s time to remove them from the mould to place them into the maturing cellar. Depending on what she expects from a cheese (hard or soft) she will leave them for shorter or longer periods in the cellar without forgetting to turn them over frequently. The last step for her is to spice her cheeses with her own genius hands.
Laure is from Savoie, a French region known for its incredible cheeses. Her origins have an obvious link with her passion. She's always had this interest in cheese since she was a young girl. When she arrived in Dordogne, she turned her passion into a career, with the support of her wonderful husband Laurent. After going to school to better learn the techniques of making a good cheese and combining that with 3 years of real-world experience, she now knows every little secret about it. She only needs to “smell the milk” to know how to make the best cheese from it. She puts a bit of herself in each piece of work she creates. By making these amazing cheeses she shares her passion with us: her passion for her work, her goats, her environment and her love for life.
Her talent and her generous personality have led her to meet many starred chefs renowned in France and internationally. Last May, the Taste of Paris event was a real springboard for her career. During the event there was an overwhelming agreement between everyone that her smoked cheese was something really special.
This cheese has a perfect balance between the strong and natural taste of her dry cheese and the smoked taste. The smoked taste gets inside the cheese to make a perfect mix with all the flavours of the milk. It feels really refined in your mouth and is smooth so it doesn’t attack your tongue like another strong cheese would. This specific flavour makes it special.
Today she is solicited to participate in many events and has started new partnerships with some of the best restaurant in Paris. Chefs in Paris are not the only people who figured out the potential of her cheeses. One chef especially known in the Bordeaux region, Eric Gérona, has used her cheese to create a new recipe: “The cheese Entremet from the Chatain farm on crunchy brioche with preserved peers and cumin.”
Here are more suggestions if you want to try it at home from the bottom up: a layer of panko brioche French toast, a layer of peppery goat cheese, a layer of preserved peers with cumin, a bit of balsamic, a layer of refined goat cheese, flaxseed and poppy seeds. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to finish it.
As for Laure she likes to eat her cheeses in a more simple but still delicate way:
“With smoked goat cheese she will eat it with a little slice of multi-grain bread, a drizzle of macadamia nut oil and mesclun salad.”
"The best way to eat fresh goat cheese is to cut it into little slices, put some olive oil on it, salt and pepper it and then top it off with preserved tomatoes.” She calls this one “the real taste of things”.
Finally she shared with me the best way to eat her cheese. I'll let you guess the process with the following picture.
Other than cheese she also makes other dairy products such as milk marmalades, cream desserts, cheese strainers, white cheese and yoghurts of many flavours (even essential oils). When you take a bite of her natural yoghurt it feels like you are taking a sip of goat milk and then you get to enjoy the smooth taste of the cream. What a pleasant journey for your tongue.
Now you know, being a cheese maker is serious work. You have to study for it and then if you have the skills like Laure, you have the potential to do an amazing job. The quality of her products comes from the entire process she uses and all the energy she puts into it each day of each week. As an artist she never stops creating and in each aspect of her work she succeeds to keep the natural taste of the cheese alive, even when covered with spices, filled with caviar or smoked. Today the taste of the authentic has no price. Let us all be tempted by a “tamper proof” goat cheese.