May 20, 2008

La Fête du Fromage - Pigouille des Charentes

Pigouille des Charentes. What an intriguing name.

I'm familiar with the "des Charentes" part, meaning from the idyllic Charentes region of central France.
It was that first word - pig ou, huh? - that I'd never seen before. So of course I had to try it for la Fête du Fromage!
When I pointed at the cheese and read the name out loud to the fromagère, she had to correct my pronunciation. Twice. (I hate it when my French accent fails me)

Just so everyone is clear, it is pronounced:
Pig - ew - wee Day Shar -ont

Now that you know how to say it, you might want to know the origin of the name. A pigouille is the long paddle that a boatman uses to navigate a small canal barge - a yole - along the narrow canals of the Marais Poitevin, also called the "Green Venice" of western France.

Pigouille des Charentes

Traditionally, Pigouille des Charentes was made from unpasteurized cow's milk or goat's milk, or a mixture of the two. Today this cheese is made from raw ewe's milk and produced by one lone producer on the Île d'Oléron.

The first impression was its aroma, which was full of sweet hay and a clean barnyard scent. I knew that good things were to come....

Pigouille des Charentes

The flavor was exquisite!
A salty, sweet and strong flavor that was a perfect match to the rustic baguette and red wine that we were drinking. When I purchased the cheese, its exterior was lightly crusted with blue mold, but not yet entirely covered. After one week the mold almost covered the entire surface, which accentuated its heady, lovely flavor.

I recommend this one highly. If you can find it, please buy it!

Saumur wine is suggested, but we found that it paired nicely with our local Minervois wine. Pin It


Alison said...

I take umbrage with your assertion that the Charentes regions are in central France. ;-)

But I have never heard of that cheese, probably because I've only ever had bad luck on Oléron.

Loulou said...

Yes, one of my favorite regions of France! :)
You'll have to try this one next time, even if it does come from Oléron.