The paste is
smooth and creamy and the flavour is goaty, but not overpowering.
The provinces of Berry and Tourraine have
been famous for their goats' milk cheeses since the 8th Century. These
include the Selles-Sur-Cher, Crottin de Chavignol, Pouligny-Saint-Pierre
Valenšay cheeses were once shaped like
perfect pyramids. However, when Napoleon returned from his disastrous
campaign in Egypt, he stopped at the castle of Valenšay and seeing the
cheese reminded him of the Egyptian pyramids. He drew his sword and chopped
off the top. Cheeses have been made in the shape of a truncated pyramid
When making Valenšay the drained curd is
cast into a mould, allowed to drain even more and when sufficiently firm
it is removed and coated with salted charcoal ashes. It then sits in a
well-ventilated room with a high humidity for three weeks. As the cheese
ripens it develops a natural blue colouration.
The paste is smooth and white with a delicate,
but not overpowering, goaty flavour. Valenšay is at its best from Spring
until Autumn. The majority of Valenšay available today is made in large
creameries using pasteurised milk. Although mass-produced cheeses are
available all year they are disappointing compared with the unpasteurised
farmhouse version which we stock at The Teddington Cheese. Valenšay is
best enjoyed with the wines of the Poitou.
Each Valenšay has a square base with 6cm
sides, a square top with 3.5cm sides and is 6cm high. Each cheese weighs
250g and has a minimum fat content of 45%.