You’re right. This is the same cheese pictured in last week’s Planet Cheese. But that was a teaser. I identified it then but didn’t describe it, and this is a cheese you want to know. Goat’s milk blues aren’t that common, and great ones like Persillé de Rambouillet are rarer still. Where has this cheese been all my life?
Even resolute goat-cheese avoiders might be seduced by this beauty. It’s moist and mellow, as luscious as French butter, and with a nutty, toasty scent that reminds me of Saltine crackers. I literally sighed when I tasted it. What a pleasure to find a new (to me) blue with such an approachable personality. No peppery bite, no bitterness, no lasting impression of salt.
Persillé de Rambouillet (pair-see-yay duh rahm-boo-ee-yay) is a French farmstead cheese of recent creation. The farm, on the edge of the Rambouillet forest, near Paris, dates from the 19th century. It produced mostly grains until the 1970s, when the owners introduced dairy cows to improve the declining soil. Turning the milk into cheese helped pay the bills, and in 2000 they added goats to the mix.
La Ferme de la Tremblaye now supports 700 Alpine goats nourished primarily with organic feed grown on the estate. The creamery runs entirely on its own biofuel and produces about 30 different cheeses, including a pasteurized-milk Brie for the U.S., which I haven’t encountered.
In France, most cow’s-milk blue cheeses are named “Bleu de Something,” like Bleu d’Auvergne or Bleu de Gex. For goat cheeses with blue mold, convention calls for the word persillé, because the interior looks like it’s sprinkled with parsley. A whole Persillé de Rambouillet weighs about 2-1/2 pounds and is thoroughly cloaked in vegetable ash. The interior is off-white, lightly marbled with blue veins, lush and spreadable. Serve it with walnut bread or a sturdy baguette and a glass of sweet wine. My vote goes to Madeira.
In a YouTube video about the farm, an employee attributes some of the quality to the use of animal rennet and to the minimal time lapse between milking and cheese making. Given that the cheese is made with pasteurized milk, the goat rennet is likely an especially important contributor to final texture and flavor.
Look for Persillé de Rambouillet at the following merchants.
San Francisco: Other Avenues
Peninsula: The Greedy Ant (Belmont)
East Bay: Berkeley Bowl West, El Cerrito Natural Annex, Farmstead Wine and Cheese (Montclair and Alameda), The Pasta Shop (Oakland and Berkeley)
North Bay: Big John’s Market (Healdsburg), Molsberry Market (Santa Rosa), Oxbow Cheese Merchant (Napa), Sunshine Foods (St. Helena)
Other Northern California: Back Porch Market (Grass Valley), Davis Food Co-op, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Sutter Creek Cheese Shop
Los Angeles Area: Andrew’s Cheese Shop, Surfas, Wally’s
Mold Loves Gold
My go-to wine for almost any buttery blue is the Henriques & Henriques Rainwater Madeira. It smells like caramel and dried figs, feels like silk on the tongue and isn’t nearly as sticky-sweet as many dessert wines. You don’t have to drink it all in one sitting; just re-cork the bottle and put it back in your cellar or another cool, dark location. It will keep for weeks. I like it at cellar temperature.
For years, my husband and I purchased H&H Rainwater at the Spanish Table in Berkeley and always had a bottle in our cellar. At under $20, it was an excellent value. But what’s pictured in the glass above is the last of it. I haven’t been able to locate it anywhere locally and hope a Bay Area reader will know where to find it. Spanish Table has the 10-year-old H&H Verdelho Madeira, which is even more fabulous but more than twice the price. Sandeman’s makes a widely available Rainwater Madeira; check Wine-Searcher for retailers near you.