When we stayed in Vellaron, in the heart of Provence, the evening farmers market was my favourite part of the day. No matter how far or wide we travelled during the day, coming home to stroll through the stalls of fresh fruits and vegetables was the highlight beyond all others. My memories of doing so are just as vivid and fond as strolling through the streets of Paris. With a basket in hand and a few Euros, we could buy anything from local wines to the freshest cherries I have ever tasted in my life. But it was the cheese stalls that won my heart each time.
In one particular specialist cheese stall, the only produce they sold was their locally made goats cheese. Each one was shaped into small wheels, some were rolled in fresh herbs or freshly made spicy dukkah. Others were encrusted with cracked pepper or left naturally naked and raw. It was only natural that we took them back to our little French villa with a great bouteille de vin and fresh bread.
Back home, in Melbourne we are surrounded by equally delicious goat cheese and so it’s easy to produce the same seasoned and spiced wheels. I have tried a few varieties of goats cheese, and while the soft goat cheese is certainly scrumptious, it does not work very well in this way. So find a firm cheese in your local deli or food store.
250g-500g firm fresh goat cheese
1 chilli, seeded and finely sliced
Fresh parsley, washed, dried and finely chopped
Divide the cheese into equal quantities and with very clean dry hands, roll each amount into a smooth ball.
Roll one ball in the freshly cracked pepper and set it aside on the serving plate. Repeat again with the freshly chopped chilli and parsley. Set one clean smooth ball aside on the plate and drizzle with a small teaspoon of honey. Repeat with the remaining quantities of cheese.
Slice the figs into quarters taking care not to cut through the base. Gently pinch the base of the fig between two fingers to open the fruit wide. Place them on the plate next to the cheese. Drizzle with a small amount of honey.
There is no limit to the various ways you can season the cheese wheels. Just choose fresh, clean flavours and of course, use the best quality. There are only a few ingredients in this dish and so the flavours you choose will need to compliment the delicate cheese. For example, my favourite version is the one with honey, and so the honey will need to be a good quality product that works with the cheese.