I know I've told you all about my love of cheese. I also know I've written about my ups and downs, my trials and tribulations, my laughter and tears, all in the name of trying to make cheese. If it sounds a bit theatrical, trust me, nothing was more entertaining than watching me fail and burn and curse over a steaming hot cauldron of milk.
But you know, I'm not sure I've told you of my love for goats. Yes, way-back-when, on our 5 acre plot in Virginia we came very close to expanding our little chicken farm and welcoming twin pygmy goats into our family.
Now, of course I didn't want these goats for milk. I was ALL talk and big ideas back then. I really just wanted to own these cute little buggers because I hated mowing our big ass lawn...I thought the dog could use a friend or two that didn't have feathers and tasted like chicken...and they were adorable!!! Well, we never did get them and I'm happy about it. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have liked living in Philadelphia as much as we did.
But I still think from time to time about how great it would be to own some goats. They're very self-reliant animals. They mow the lawn better than a Cub Cadet. And if you're up for the challenge, you can make some damn fine cheese from their milk.
Last weekend at the farmers' market I ran across a few stands selling artisan cheese, but the one that really sucked me in was the all-goat cheese-stand. Make way...Jessica is here and she wants some cheese.
The stand I'm talking about was the Capriole cheese farm stand. They had quite a selection of lovely hand made goat cheese and I found myself in heaven. After tasting a few I decided on a surface ripened cheese ball. Unlike your typical log of fresh goat cheese this one actually has a firm rind. The minute I saw it I was transported back to a cheese shop on the Rue Cler in Paris. I just had to have it.
I am in love with this cheese. It's got a very, very smooth texture (sometimes cheap fresh goat cheese can be mealy). It's just moist enough to be spreadable so it would go perfectly on a cheese plate. And best of all, the rind imparts the most wonderful, earthy flavor to the cheese. It takes it to a whole other level.
Now, of course you could simply put this on a cheese plate and it would be lovely. It would let the cheese speak for itself. But how often do we put together a cheese plate? Honestly? Even I, a veritable cheese junkie only put one together once or twice a month max. So what do you do the rest of the time? I'll tell you what you don't do. You don't stop buying good cheese. You just find ways to include it in your every day meals.
I think that the absolute best accompaniments to goat cheese are the following: Baby Arugula and/or Fresh Roasted Beets and/or Walnuts (or another fatty nut like a pine nut). Now, you can mix goat cheese with one, or preferably ALL of these things and you will have a flavor combination that is second to none. The arugula is peppery. The beets are sweet. The goat cheese is creamy and salty. The nuts are meaty with the perfect amount of fat.
As I type these words I'm munching on that very salad. I roasted some beets in the oven (wrap in foil and roast at 350 for an hour or more depending on the size). I opened a package of baby arugula. I grabbed some toasted walnuts from the pantry and threw them all on a plate with some goat cheese. Then I made the easiest dressing of all time. I drizzled it with a tiny bit of olive oil and a few drops of fresh lemon juice. Let some kosher salt snow down on the plate (no pepper...the arugula will do that work for you) and you've got a lunch, dinner or snack to die for.
So get out there and buy yourself some cheese. Make it goat...make it sheep...make it cow. But whatever you choose, make it something new.
Capriole Goat Cheese
Greenville, IN 47124
It looks like they have a store on the farm and you can also find them (and probably me!) Saturdays at the Highlands Farmers' Market on Bardstown Rd.