Easy Cheesey Chevre Tasting and Cookery Lesson

Last month thanks to Mumsnet I was invited to attend a French Goat’s Cheese themed Masterclass hosted by Sophie Wright, this was as part of the Easy Cheesey Chevre campaign.  Sophie is one of the youngest ad most talented chefs around at the moment, she is also author of cookbook “Home at 7, Dinner at 8” which has been regularly featured in the Evening Standard.  She is also the French Goat’s Cheese ambassador in th UK .

Easy Cheesey Chevre is the new campaign for French Goat’s Cheeses.  The campaign is running across UK and in Germany, it’s objective is to raise awareness and make comsumers more familiar with French Goat’s Cheeses, their flavours and styles and the different ways in which they can be simply prepared to eat in a wide range of dishes.

While I love all types of Cheeses, Goat’s Cheese is not one I normally choose and I hadn’t actually any idea you could cook with it so I jumped at the chance to attend.

I think writting this blog has brought me out of my shell a little as it was with no hesitations I jumped onto a train on my own heading towards L’atelier des chefs cookery school in Central London, and it didn’t bother me that upon arrival I knew no-one.  Everyone was very friendly and welcoming.

This is the sight that greeted us after coffee/tea and a little chatting:

I had no idea there were so many different types.  We were then given a guided presentation through the different types of Cheeses while tasting them and learning more about them, this talk was given by Cheese expert Charlie Turnbull.  It was interesting to taste the various varieties of these cheeses, all were sightly different, some of with I loved, some were edible and some now trying I wouldn’t try again.  The cheeses we tried out were: French Goat’s cheese log, French Goat’s cheese mini log, spreadable fresh French Goat’s cheese, Fresh Goat’s cheese camembert, Selles-sur-Cher, Crottin de Chavigol, Saint-Maure de Touraine, Valencay, Banon – Rocamadour & Tomme de Chevre.  (Yes these were copied from a list as I would never have remembered, especially later on once the wine arrived.)

We learnt lots about the regions these cheeses came from, how they were made and the different types,  there are 4 categories of French Goat’s cheeses: Soft cheese with a natural rind, fresh cheese (fromage frais), soft cheese with bloomy rind & Uncooked presssed cheese. The Easy Cheesey Chevre campaign has given these four types of cheeses personalities and characters to help identify them: Chantal Chevre, Pamela Pyramid, Billy Buche & Charlie Chevre Frais.

(Can you tell we enjoyed ourselves?)
We were then taken into the professional teaching kitchen where Sophie Wright taught us to make: Haddock & Smoked Salmon Fish Cake with melting middle creamy spreadable fresh Goat’s cheese. All of the ingredients were measured and laid out before us and we got into groups of 4/5 and followed Sophie’s instuctions to make our own Fish Cakes.  It really was easy to make and the ones we made were huge, I would definately make them again at home only much small, Emmy loves fish so these are bound to be a hit with her.

Once we had made the fishcakes they were put into the oven for us, while we went back outside for a French Goat’s Cheese warm salad and a glass of wine.  the kitchen was cleaned and set up ready to make:  French Goat’s cheese mini log rosemary and green olive muffins.

These were also cooked for us and the kitchen tidied away for us – I loved this and wish this would happen for me at home – a girl can wish can’t she?
We were brought our own plates of food – our cookery stations were numbered so will all ate the food which we had prepared.  The fishcakes were so tasty – however were far too large so I couldn’t finish mine but it was easily washed down with more wine, then a bit more and for extra measure a little more!
We all chatted amoungst ourselves, enjoying the left over cheese and gossiping like you do when in a room of 25ish Mums and a Dad.  When it was time to return to normality of cooking for ourselves we were given a gift bag containing a receipe book including the food we had cooked during the day, our cooked muffins and a slice of Baked cheesecake with spreadable French Goat’s cheese and Orange and a few other gifts to remind us of our day.  I must stress the Cheesecake was to die for and I will be making this at home infact I may HAVE to make it tomorrow now I have reminded myself of it.
You can find all the French Goat’s Cheese reciepes as well as more information about the Easy Cheesey Chevre campaign on their website: www.frenchgoatscheese.com
I have been given a few questions to answer about our day:
What was the highlight of your Easy Cheesey Chevre Masterclass experience?
What you mean except getting ME time and wine in the same day?  I would say it was learning to cook the fishcakes as Emmy will really enjoy these, and being taught in person made it easier to see exactly how easy they are – sometimes cookbooks go into so much detail you are put off making and trying new things.
Did you find the cheese tasting seminar provided you with some interesting facts, tips and advice on French Goat’s cheese? If so please share!
It was good to see up close the different types of cheeses, mostly in supermarkets the cheeses are so tightly wrapped you can’t tell if the smell will put you off.  One in particular smelt disgusting and there is no chance of me trying that again.  I also didn’t know there were so many different types.
Was there anything that surprised you about French Goat’s cheese that you didn’t know before?
Lots, the amount of cheeses available, the various ways of making cheese and it wsa surprising to learn that in the space of one week to the next the cheese can go from one class to maturing so quickly to a different type.
After tasting the French Goat’s cheese did you have a particular favourite?
Definately a question which should have been asked before a glass or two, it would have to be the mini log and the  fresh spreadable French cheese oh and Tomme de Chevre.

Were you surprised by any of the flavours of the French Goat’s cheeses? If so, how?
I was surprised how different some of them were to each other even those within the same group.
Have you been encouraged to experiment more with French Goat’s cheese as an ingredient following the Masterclass?
I will definately be trying some of the recipes and have even tried using fresh spreadable French Goat’s cheese in Emmys favourite creamy spinach pasta dish.

Were you previosly aware of the nutritional benefits of French Goat’s cheese?

Were you aware of the variety of French Goat’s cheese available here in the UK?
No, but I am also unaware of some of the other types of cheeses available too.

Did you enjoy Sophie’s French Goat’s cheese recipes? Do you plan to recreate them at home?
I will be making the cheesecake as soon as I get a free 5 minutes, it was lovely and the fishcakes will be adapted for Emmy.  I found them too fishy (don’t laugh I know they are fishcakes!) so would possibly use cod and haddock or even cod and salmon.

Would you recommend French Goat’s cheese to a friend or family member?
I would but I know they wouldn’t listen, they are very set in their ways eating wise, I would possibly cook with it and not tell them!

Did you enjoy the caves de Tourangelles Touraine Sauvingnon Blanc? Do you think you would buy this? (RRP around £8.50)
I really enjoyed it, I like a nice white wine and this went really nicely with the cheeses.  I probably wouldn’t buy it myself though as it is a little pricey, maybe to go with a cheeseboard at a dinner party but to be honest there are cheaper ones out there which are just as nice.

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