The fragrant chestnut tree leaf at Le Cochin

Banon de Provence
A chestnut leaf that was used to wrap the Banon de Provence goat milk cheese

Went for a casual dinner at French bistro Le Cochin on Peel Street just down the hill from Hollywood Road. Imagine my surprise when I found myself presented with cheese wrapped in a leaf of the Chestnut tree.

The Banon de Provence was an unpasteurised goat milk cheese that was semi-soft. It tasted a lot like other goat cheeses, but offered a bit more character in texture and complexity.

banon_titre
Photo credit: AOC Banon

According to AOC Banon, the association representing the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée for the cheese, the technique originated from farmers in northern Provence, who needed a way to preserve excess cheese production after the initial sales cycle. What they came up with a way to use chestnut leaves, which fell from trees every autumn ahead of the full maturity of the cheese, as a wrap. It usually takes 5 to 8 leaves to wrap each piece of the cheese.

It wasn’t the cheese that impressed me as much as the wrapping. After we finished our potion of the Banon de Provence, I got the urge to put my nose to the chestnut leaf, just to see what it added to the flavour and aroma.

Le Cochin
Fresh and aromatic

What a phenomenal aroma. Despite falling off its host tree, being boiled and/or vinagered, then wrap around a piece of cheese for what ever amount of time, the leaf was fresh and aromatic, like a meadow in the spring as the sun dries up the morning dews.

The lesson here is that trees offer us so much more than we can sometimes imagine.

 

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Categories:International, tree and food, urbantreesTags: , , , , , , ,

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