Banon is a traditional French cheese, named from it’s town of origin, Banon, in Provence. Traditionally, it’s made from goat’s milk or sometimes a mixture of goat’s milk with some cow. It’s wrapped in chestnut leaves which have been soaked in vinegar which imparts a salty and tangy taste in the cheese.
I’ve been meaning to try a banon for some time, particularly the “O’Banon” from Capriole Farms. However, this week, my cheese monger recommended trying one from Prairie Fruits Farm, a farmstead cheese maker in southern Illinois. I’m always up for a new cheese, so I took home Prairie Fruit’s Prairie Blazing Star Banon, and I was blown away.
The Prairie Blazing Star Banon is made from a pasteurized goat’s milk, and wrapped in maple or sycamore leaves, depending on the season (I believe mine was wrapped in maple, but I was so entranced unwrapping it, I forgot to check closely!). The Blazing Star leaves are also not soaked in vinegar, but red wine, specifically, Alto Vineyards Chambourcin.
The Blazing Star is a pungent cheese, with a very smooth, creamy texture, not chalky like some goat cheeses. When you are unwrapping this delight, you smell the wine with the cheese and it really makes your mouth water.
This is a salty cheese–which I personally love. As a result of the soak and leaves, the cheese also has hints of the red wine and a really great note of “vegetation” that really complement the natural tartness from the goat cheese. It’s a really complex mix of flavors which just floored me… I absolutely loved this cheese. While many cheeses present a very straightforward taste, or are dominated by one flavor, this cheese plays out on your tongue like a wine. It’s a sipping cheese. Seriously. You want to roll this one around on your tongue, enjoying every little flavor it has to offer up.
I have only one bad thing to say about this cheese: it was only 2.3 oz. I should have bought more.