At the Cave des Vignerons des Coteaux Romanais, one of the local products I bought was goat cheese. Or goat cheeses, fromages de chèvre. Goat cheeses are a speciality of the Cher Valley, and they are delicious.
You can buy round goat cheeses, heart-shaped ones, logs (Sainte-Maure style), or pyramids (Valençay style). Around Saint-Aignan, the most common goat cheeses are the rounds, in the style of goat cheeses from the neighboring town of Selles-sur-Cher. The cheeses of Selles have an A.O.C., like the local white and red wines.
At the market over in Noyers-sur-Cher on Sunday mornings, I've heard the older local people ask the vendor for un chèvre bleu un peu moelleux — a medium-dry, soft "blue" goat cheese. They call the goat cheese un bleu because the crust turns a blue-gray color as the cheese ages. The cheese itself is pure white inside.
And you can buy the cheeses in different stages of maturation. The youngest are called frais, or fresh (soft). The ones aged a bit longer are demi-sec, or semi-dry (medium hard). And the cheeses that are fully aged are sec, or dry (hard). The soft, creamy ones are more or less spreadable, and the hard, dry ones can be grated.
All the goat cheeses made around Saint-Aignan are coated with a mixture of powdered wood ash and salt for the aging process. The ash and salt give them extra flavor. You don't have to cut or scrape it off — it's perfectly edible.
Goat cheeses are good with red or white wine, or with beer. And bread of course. You can melt one on a round of toast and serve it on top of a nice salad. Today we plan to make pizzas with tomato sauce and eggplant, topped with goat cheese. I'm not sure whether to use the fresh goat cheese pictured above, or the semi-dry one. I guess we can make one pizza with each and share.