Goats and kids, cheese and meat

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One evening a couple of days ago we drove a few kilometres up into the rocky, garrigue-covered hills to the goat farm at Mas Rolland to buy cheese and to see the newborn kids. The farm has a website – here – in French, explaining the way they work, grazing the goats naturally in the open countryside and making cheese every day. By chance, a couple of late kids had been born that afternoon. Unlike the slightly older ones that were scampering all over the place, trying to eat our clothes and moving so fast that all my shots of them were a blur in the low light of the shed, these ones kept still, resting after the shock, perhaps, of birth, in a plastic box.

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Most of the adult goats were being milked or waiting to be milked:

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We bought some cheeses, having already bought a quarter of a kid from the farm at the butcher’s shop in Roujan. The kids look lovely, I know, but realistically they exist only to cause the adult goats to produce milk for cheese-making. Many of the female kids are kept to replenish the herd, or sold to others who want to build up a herd, but for most of the males life is short. This is the reality of all dairy farming – sheep, cows and goats must produce offspring which are surplus to the requirements of the herd and, therefore, are eaten. We roasted the quarter kid for lunch today. It weighed about 1.25 kilo and took about an hour to cook uncovered in a hot oven. We put it on a bed of wild thyme, picked in the hills near the village, with garlic, salt, pepper, tomato purée and white wine. Half way through the cooking time we added some parboiled pieces of carrot, potato and pumpkin, so that it was a one-pot meal.

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While we were waiting for the meat to cook we had an apéritif: Cava, olives, fuet and chorizo.

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And then the main course was ready, deliciously fragrant with the thyme and garlic, nice tender meat and a delicious sauce made from the juices, wine and tomato.

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And the cheese course? A selection of goats’ cheeses: tomme, a hard, matured cheese, demi-frais, a couple of days old, and cendré, rolled in ashes, a style that I assume was developed for keeping the cheeses fresh, and which gives a lovely flavour to the cheese.

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Just for the record, yesterday we planted out our cebas – sweet onions from Lézignan-la-Cèbe.

From one season to another

 

Within the next couple of weeks, around the beginning of November, production of these delicious goats’ cheeses at Mas Rolland will stop for the winter – we’ll miss them, and we may freeze some for the occasional treat over the next few months.  For now, we’re still enjoying eating them with the last of the summer cops – stir-fried red and green peppers that we’re still picking from the garden – and the autumn crop of local Lucques olives, grown by a friend and sold, like the goats’ cheeses, in the village shop.

Le Marché fermier au Mas Rolland

This is one of our favourite events of the early summer.  The tiny hamlet of Mas Rolland, where we go to buy goats’ cheese, fills its narrow streets with producers’ stalls selling chicken and pork, cooked and ready to eat for lunch straight away at the tables provided, or packed to take home and cook there, shell fish, bread, charcuterie, olive oils and tapenade, cakes, cherries, jams, honey, and of course goats cheese.

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Long tables are laid out for hundreds of people to eat lunch in the sun or shade.  We’d ordered the paella made by the people at Neffiès who grow saffron and spent several hours with four friends and several bottles of very good local wine enjoying our lunch,  starting with a plate of charcuterie.

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We were entertained by music from the jazz band Mosaïque

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and after lunch an explanation of how the goats’ cheeses are made:

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It was a very enjoyable way to spend Sunday!