Valençay cheese is a goats milk cheese that comes from the Berry, in the area around the town of Valençay. Like the other goats cheeses of the Loire Valley it is a raw milk cheese, coated in ash and salt and eaten at about three weeks old.
|A Valençay cheese, bought from the cheese truck at Loches market.|
Legend has it that Valençay was originally a classic pyramid-shaped cheese. In order not to remind Napoleon of his defeat in Egypt, Talleyrand, who was then living in the Château de Valençay, had them "beheaded" before offering them to him!
Of course, it's not true, but it's a great story.
|Pure white inside.|
Only 26 farms produce the green labelled artisanal farmhouse cheese. Red labelled Valencay is also available, produced by half a dozen factories in the area. The two products differ because the farmhouse cheese must only contain the milk from a single 24 hour period, from a single herd (the one on the farm) , where as the factory cheese can contain milk from a 48 hour period from a number of farms. As well as producers there are specialist refiners too, who carefully mature and age the cheese under controlled conditions of temperature, humidity and air movement.
Each cheese weighs around 220 grams, and 340 tonnes of Valencay cheese are produced annually.
The proper way to cut it is from top to bottom, in wedges radiating out from the centre. Our friend Jean-Louis does it expertly, with the cheese in one hand and his pen knife in the other.
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