If you’ve been watching this past season of “Lost,” you’ll appreciate the Egyptian influence on my cheese of the week, Valencay. (What is up with all the hieroglyphics? And who the hell is Jacob?) According to Steven Jenkins, this pyramid-shaped goat cheese was created for Napoléon during his campaign to conquer Egypt, but when the effort turned south, the Loire Valley cheesemaker, Pierre Jacquin, flattened the top of the pyramid. Apparently, that would help mitigate the blow of Napoléon’s unsuccessful takeover. It still looks like a pyramid to me, but maybe Napoléon (or Jacquin) wasn’t too bright.

You’ll find pasteurized Valencay throughout the United States, and it’s easily recognizable by its shape and gray ash coating. I assume the raw-milk version available in France is superior, as raw-milk cheeses usually are. I wasn’t all that impressed with the wedge I got from Surdyk’s, to tell you the truth. Rather than tasting clean and fresh, like so many young goat’s-milk cheeses, it has an off-putting sour taste that was hard to swallow. I had a similar cheese a few years ago from Whole Foods that I remember liking so much more, so I wonder if this particular piece had been mishandled or had been sitting in the case too long.

Valencay is definitely a white-wine cheese – Artisanal Cheese recommends a Sauvignon Blanc. Anything that could mitigate the sour taste of the cheese would be a welcome pairing!

Advertisements