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Advocates: Say Fromage!

Advocates: Say Fromage!

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Valencay Cheese, Valencay Salad Recipe, Wines to Complement Your Cheese

The artisanal cheese with an imperial provenance is perfectly in season It's summer in the little town of Valencay in France's Loire Valley. The fields are lush with tall grass, fragrant wildflowers, and peppery herbs, and the goats are happy and fat. As a result, their milk is richer, more complex in flavor, and more plentiful -- and so is the town's namesake unpasteurized cheese. Valencay, a seasonal fromage, is aged for a mere two weeks, so May through the end of summer is the ideal time to enjoy it. Nutty and clean with sweet, floral, and grassy highlights, Valencay is great on a crusty baguette, in a salad (such as this one on the right), or on croutons floated on a good borscht.

This ash-dusted cheese is shaped like a pyramid with the top removed. Legend has it that Napoleon, on his way back from his unsuccessful campaign to seize Egypt, saw the cheese and in a rage lopped off the top; the cheese has been made acme-less ever since. When you have finished eating yours, you'll wish Napoleon didn't have such a temper.

RECIPESalad of Valencay With Grapes, Pistachios, and Olives (Serves two as an appetizer)

Ingredients: 3 ounces Valencay, crumbled 3 ounces mache lettuce, cleaned (substitute mesclun) 10 red seedless grapes, halved 2 tablespoons roasted, salted, and shelled pistachios 12 small pitted black olives such as nicoises 1 tablespoon chives, chopped 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons lemon juice Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Mix all but the cheese in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Divide among two plates and garnish with the crumbled cheese.

PAIRINGSWines to complement your cheese

Fiddlehead Cellars Goosebury Sauvignon Blanc, 2008, Santa Ynez Valley, Calif. This sauvignon blanc's steely minerality and clean, crisp citrus fruit flavors pair perfectly with an earthy, relatively light goat cheese such as Valencay. Brought to you by Kathy Joseph, this Old World-style wine is a New World gem. $34

Walnut Block Sauvignon Blanc, 2008, Marlborough, New Zealand The tropical fruit and gooseberry notes typical of New World-style sauvignon blancs from this region are countered by flinty, clean minerals, grass, and herbs. A nice balance at a good price. $22

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