This is the week of eating goat cheese. The other day it was Taupinette and today it’s the turn of Selles Sur Cher.
This is a classic AOC cheese from the region of, unsurprisingly, Selles Sur Cher in the Loir et Cher region. The commune is a couple of hundred kilometres south west of Paris.
This maybe a good time to explain AOC and these other things.
Us French [OK, I’m not really French but I live here so that’s pretty much as good as] love rules and we love it when the state does lots and controls things. Even down to making up new words.
AOC stands for Appellation d’origine contrôlée and it’s a French system to control the production and branding of certain traditional foods which are strongly linked to geographical areas. The idea goes back to Royal decrees governing the production of Roquefort [a truly great cheese for another day] in the 15th century. There are all sorts of things that are under this system such as various wines, herbs from Provence, ciders, honeys, butter, charcuterie etc.
There are no beers since the French appear to be incapable of producing decent beer.
There are also a number of similar schemes maintained by the EU and, in an order showing the declining difficulty of achieving each, there are Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG). Selles Sur Cher has applied for the PDO label.
So, as you’ve guessed, it’s made with goat cheese and preferably unpasteurised milk. The cheese is about 10 or 15 centimetres across [about five inches] and is a disc shape with slightly sloping sides, perhaps like a cone with the top chopped off. Its rind is wrinkled and dark grey with a light and soft bloom. The grey comes from from the application of ash. Again, the rind is perfectly edible. If you cut it off you’re wasting your own money and discarding the work and labour of the cheesemakers and affineurs. On your head be it.
The cheese tends to be matured for about ten days to three weeks. When you cut it open you can immediately see one of the reasons for using ash. The contrast between the grey rind and the brilliant white of the paste is quite beautiful. The paste is rich, creamy and consistent and the cheese has a very clean, bright fresh taste. The taste has no great length and is almost verging on the bland. It really is one of the most delicate cheeses around and if you’re going to put this on the cheese board make sure it’s eaten first. I find it a good lunchtime cheese with some lightly salted tomatoes and some bread. And it’s very moreish. Of course you want some wine with it. I’d go for a dry white or a light red such as a Chinon or a Bourgueil.
Can I tell the difference between this and the Taupinette from the other day? Yes, when I eat them together and I can see which one is which. The Taupinette has slightly more flavour. Would I remember for next time or tell them apart in a blind taste test? Quite probably not. I obviously have a lot of homework to do.