Photograph of Valencay
Map of France showing the location of Berry

The paste is smooth and creamy and the flavour is goaty, but not overpowering.

Made using goats' milk Made using unpasteurised milk

The provinces of Berry and Tourraine have been famous for their goats' milk cheeses since the 8th Century. These include the Selles-Sur-Cher, Crottin de Chavignol, Pouligny-Saint-Pierre and Valenšay.

Valenšay cheeses were once shaped like perfect pyramids. However, when Napoleon returned from his disastrous campaign in Egypt, he stopped at the castle of Valenšay and seeing the cheese reminded him of the Egyptian pyramids. He drew his sword and chopped off the top. Cheeses have been made in the shape of a truncated pyramid ever since.

When making Valenšay the drained curd is cast into a mould, allowed to drain even more and when sufficiently firm it is removed and coated with salted charcoal ashes. It then sits in a well-ventilated room with a high humidity for three weeks. As the cheese ripens it develops a natural blue colouration.

The paste is smooth and white with a delicate, but not overpowering, goaty flavour. Valenšay is at its best from Spring until Autumn. The majority of Valenšay available today is made in large creameries using pasteurised milk. Although mass-produced cheeses are available all year they are disappointing compared with the unpasteurised farmhouse version which we stock at The Teddington Cheese. Valenšay is best enjoyed with the wines of the Poitou.

Each Valenšay has a square base with 6cm sides, a square top with 3.5cm sides and is 6cm high. Each cheese weighs 250g and has a minimum fat content of 45%.

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