I don’t really discriminate when it comes to food. I love pretty much every thing, as long as it’s fresh and prepared well. I’ll eat any vegetable, every type of cuisine, spicy, salty, sweet, whatever texture. I’m always up for discovering new dishes, culinary techniques and flavor combinations. In fact, I’m realizing lately that it’s one of my very greatest pleasures in life. So if I had to narrow it down and make a list of my top favorite foods, it would be extremely difficult.
My preferences change with the weather, the season, and my moods. I go through phases, like everyone else. But if I had to pick, if, in some bizarre scenario someone put a gun to my head and shouted, “Tell me your 3 favorite foods!” I just know that I would blurt out “scallops, goat cheese and ice cream!” So, imagine my delight when I moved to the south of France four years ago (though it feels like yesterday) and discovered that every bistro menu featured a salade au chèvre chaud, simply known as chèvre chaud in Provence.
Chèvre is the French word for goat cheese, and let me tell you, they know how to make the stuff around here, especially in Provence. The chèvre chaud is a very straightforward salad: Toasted slices of baguette are topped with thick slices of goat cheese and broiled briefly, until the cheese is slightly carmalized and oozing with perfection. These are then placed upon a bed of fresh greens, such as mesclun, which is usually accompanied by tomato and toasted walnuts, all of which have been tossed in a light shallot vinaigrette.
Every single time I went out to lunch during my 4 month stay in Provence, I had to convince myself to try something other than a chèvre chaud. I would battle with myself (a common occurance). The dialogue would go something like this:
Caely 1: “Dammnit Caely, try something new!”
Caely 2: “ But I love chèvre sooooo much”
Caely 1: “Okay fine, just this once. But next time, you’ll try something new! There are so many amazing Provençal dishes to sample…the seafood, the paté, the rillettes, the ratatouille. Next time, it’ll be something new! That’s an order…”
Caely 2: “Okay, okay. Next time….”
And the cycle repeated. But honestly, how is one to resist the allure of a refreshing chèvre chaud on a lazy, hot Provencal afternoon? Nothing goes better with a glass of rose…
And good news, it couldn’t be simpler to make chez toi. Here is a traditional recipe that I found on the blog of a fellow Francophile.
And, the next post really will be about the farmer’s market here in Rennes. Je vous jure!
Until then, bon appétit!