by Miranda McQuillan | October 1, 2011 3:33 pm
By Miranda McQuillan
As one of “the other milks” in cheese making, goat cheeses have textures, tastes and truths that will take your sense of taste on a whole new adventure. Though goats and sheep are common in many foreign countries, they are a bit foreign to us. This makes sense, considering that they are not a major part of most American’s culinary or cultural diet. Beef, pork, chicken – even turkeys get more love.
Goats get plenty of love when it comes to cheese. It’s Goat Cheese Month in America – time to celebrate the beautiful, talented and mysterious goat and it’s versatile, delicate and delicious cheese.
My introduction to goat cheese began in Besancon, France. We were all new students at CLA(Centre Lingusitique Appliqué), which was my school for the six months I was there. It was a center for the study of language, and an amazing environment to learn French. There were people from all over the world, and French students that were studying to teach French to people – us – from all over the world. There was always someone to meet, talk to, and learn from. However, in the beginning of new and exciting experiences, sometimes the best moments are the self exploration you are willing to do – breaking from the herd, so to speak.
I decided to go walk the stone street along the Doubs River and I found an outdoor market, tented and protected from the rain outside. Although I had been to the spring markets in Paris when I was in high school (many of which were more flea rather than food oriented) I had never been to a winter or spring local market. Those amazing mountains and valleys brought forth some of the freshest, most fragrant, real food that I had ever experienced. Root vegetables, hearty winter greens, grains and herbs, meat and sausage counters with the stark white butcher paper – and of course, the Cheese. At the time, I was completely and rather hopelessly unaware of the extraordinary variety of Chevre (French for goat cheese). Let me tell you, there is no shortage.
Goats milk in quite sweet and delicate. It comes young or aged, soft or hard; there are goat bries, goat cheddars, and goat blue cheeses. It is also easier for us to digest than cow cheese. When you curd it in its earliest, least aged form, it is what the French call Chevre: soft goat cheese. It has a tanginess like sour cream and a texture like a semi-crumbly cream cheese. This is a good cheese to use in salads, on sandwiches, pizzas, crostinis, hot or cold, in place of sour cream and with a wide variety of foods – even desserts. A good jumping-off point for any goat cheese novice is to introduce the goat cheese into things you already eat, easing your taste buds in.
My favorite goat cheese is called Bucheron, and a good brand for that is Soignon. It is a French goat cheese company that also makes standard goat brie; delicious, delicate and creamy. The Bucheron comes in a big 2.2lb log, with a touch of brie mold. Due to the thicker log, you get the soft at the edges and richer, thicker goat cheese in the middle for an amazing treat – like two cheeses in one. Served with rustic bread and fresh pears or peaches, you can’t go wrong.
There are English-aged goat cheddars, and Dutch goat’s milk goudas, middle-aged goat crottins, (which is French for a little biscuit or barrel shape cheese that can continue to age until it molds even). I had a customer that would wait to buy them until they were older/more aged, then let them sit out on her table for a few days – THEN eat it!
One of the very first goat cheese makers and providers of goat cheese was Laura Chenel. Her amazing and simple Chef’s Chevre, was originally sold to chefs, as they were the ones using goat cheese and creating this current demand to create their dishes in our own homes. She has since expanded her line to include her version of some of the best goat cheeses from around the world.
Inspired by Chenel Goat cheese, Mary Keehn got herself a goat and began making what today is considered one of the best goat cheeses in the world: Humboldt Fog, at Cypress Grove in Eureka, CA, along with the delectable aged Midnight Moon (in regards to when one of the milking happens) Aged Gouda. This year is the 20th Anniversary of Cypress Grove.
As these companies grew, others joined the ranks, like Cowgirl Creamery in California, Capri Farms, Capriole, and Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese and MouCo Co. in Colorado.
Goat cheeses from local dairies like Honey Creek Creamery, are served and sold in many local spots, including Dixie Quicks, Lot 2 in Benson and at the Old Market and Aksarben Farmer’s Markets. Visit Shadowbrook Farm and their Dutch Girl Creamery, a small family-owned produce & dairy farm just west outside of Lincoln to meet and greet the cheese makers and to pick up some of their amazing Chevre. You can find it on some of the great pizzas at Pitch in Dundee.
Source URL: http://fsmomaha.com/go-goat-cheese/
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