Whether it's served hot with a salad, used to crown a cheese platter, or savoured fresh with honey or olive oil, goat's cheese is an absolute culinary must. Provence's dry, sunny climate is perfect for goat breeding -and that's lucky for us!
There is no cow's milk in the Bouches-du-Rhône – or at least very little. Goats rule here. And don't look too hard, you simply won't find any other cheese specialities in the area…
Alpine goats are widely found and produce abundant quantities of milk. The Bouches-du-Rhône is home to several artisan cheese makers, producing soft, semi-hard or hard cheeses. The most inventive stuff their soft cheeses with tapenade or figs and walnuts, and coat them with Herbes de Provence. But one of the best recipes consists of simply drizzling fresh goat's cheese with a generous dose of tasty, green huile nouvelle olive oil…
Did you say hardy?
Our hardiest goat, and the one best adapted to the local relief and climate, is the Rove breed, often seen capering round on the stony ground or perched in the rocky hills, chomping on gorse, shrub oaks, broom and rosemary.
Rove is set to the North of Marseille, after the Estaque quarter. The hills surrounding this little village are renowned for the herds of goats that gamble there. Contrary to the classic Alpine goat, Rove goats feed on plants growing in the arid garrigue, which lend their milk a powerful flavour. Their small milk yield is largely made up for by its exceptionally-fragrant taste.
No thermometers here!
The milk is turned into curd cheese (brousse) by the cheese maker at the bottom of the village. A drop of spirit vinegar is poured into the boiled milk to make it curdle. The local cheese makers know exactly when the time is right to start turning the cheese to obtain a very delicate texture, just by looking at it! The milk takes 35 to 40 minutes to clot and is then strained through transparent cones. Its fat content is 45 %, thanks to the richness and concentration of the Rove goat milk. Brousse can't be kept for more than 4-5 days and is very hard to transport, but it is a genuinely exceptional product. Production is suspended from November to February while the goats are feeding their babies, born in the winter months.
Provence's elders often savour brousse as a dessert, with a dash of rum or honey. But it is also delicious served with a good olive oil and fleur de sel, or in a pasta sauce with pine nuts.
DISCOVERING THE LOCAL GOAT'S CHEESE PRODUCERS
Whether it's served hot with a salad, used to crown a cheese platter, or savoured fresh with honey or olive oil, goat's cheese is an absolute culinary must. Provence's dry, sunny climate is perfect for goat breeding -and that's lucky for us! Around 60 farmers produce these flavourful cheeses in the Bouches-du-Rhône area, in particular in La Crau and the Alpilles. The best way to ensure you enjoy a good-quality cheese is to buy it from the producers at the local farm markets or directly from their farm.
Brousse time!In the early 20th century, brousse sellers announced their arrival in the streets of L’Estaque by shouting "Leï brousso dou Rouvé!", to the sound of a little trumpet! Travelling salesmen used to sell their cheeses in the evening and their arrival became synonymous with time pressing on, hence the Marseille expression "à l’heure des brousses", meaning late!
At last! The Brousse du Rove AOC!
After 11 years of battling and waiting, Brousse du Rove cheese was finally awarded the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) label by the INAO (National Institute for Origin and Quality ) in 2018: an exhilarating victory for the goat breeders of Provence and André Gouiran, the last shepherd of Rove, who have dedicated their life to upholding this tradition. In addition to the obligation to own only Rove goats, the ten or so producers awarded the label are also committed to a least 6 hours' grazing a day and GMO-free food supplements.
By anne garabedian-journalist-food
A gourmet treat…
Provence has been famed for its candied fruit from time immemorial. In the early 16th century, the region was fairly impoverished. Fruit grew here in abundance, but much of it was lost every year.
In a sauce or salad, red is the colour!
Not having qualifications doesn't mean your life is ruined
Can anyone resist an almond? Everyone raves about these little nuggets of happiness you can savour every which way – fresh, dried, whole, grilled, sliced, ground or made into a cream or milk!
The Gourmet's New Eldorado
It had all but disappeared from the markets, but then – perhaps as a result of Halloween arriving in France – squash made a big comeback on our stalls just over a decade ago
It all starts with a crushed clove...
Provencal cuisine simply wouldn't exist without garlic
Francis lived happily close beside his tree...
Picked ripe from the tree, figs are simply to die for. They can also be scattered on trays and left to dry in the sun for 3 days: "That's the best way to keep your figs all winter – we serve figs at Christmas as one of Provence's famous 13 Desserts," smiles Jacqueline Honoré.
A story that will make you turn to jelly...
As yellow as sunshine and as warm as a winter fireplace... The quince isn't very pretty, but the people of Provence love it. You could even say that a passion has been born between this irregular-shaped fruit, somewhat resembling a dented, rustic pear and our lovers of jams, jellies and pastes.
When we talk about the South of France, what's the first thing we think of? The MEDITERRANEAN SEA! (and the sun of course – it's all part of the package).