One of my favorite summertime pairings is figs with goat cheese. We first had this over at Rob and Maria’s house and try to make it every year. There are a few ways you can make this up and I’ve also done it warmed which is a special kind of delicious.
Archive for goat
Holy hiatus, Batman! I have been incredibly busy, haven’t been making cheese and haven’t had time to write about some of the yummy cheeses I’ve been eating. However, lucky me, the ladies of FUCheese proposed a cheesemaking day and we actually made it happen. On the menu this time was something I’ve been wanting to make for over a year: feta!
What a year. What a jerk of a year. I think every year finds people sorting it into a winning year or a losing year. I have a lot to be grateful and thankful for here at the start of 2010 (Twenty-ten! The future!) but there were parts of 2009 which were terribly trying. The bright spots, for me, revolved around cheese and for that I can’t complain.
Boerenkaas from Willamette Valley Cheese Co, a 2009 favorite
What? I can’t quite hear you. Did you say, “more goats”? I aim to please….
Don’t you think goats have Mona Lisa smiles?
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I was out in Bozeman visiting my family and the first thing I did when I got into town was stop in the local Food Co-op and scope out the cheese selection. I bought a bunch of good stuff to share (Humboldt Fog which my brothers loved, a puck of French Prairie brie from Willamette Valley and some dependable 12-month manchego). Then I hunted around for something from Montana. The only thing I could find was the mysteriously named Montana Organic Chevre.
After we feasted on all this good cheese and decided that the chevre was truly awesome, I started poking around online to figure out who was behind this yummy chevre. As it turns out, right outside Bozeman, Montana, in the cute little town of Belgrade, you can find one of Montana’s few cheesemakers. I sent them an email asking for a tour and heard back almost immediately that I could come on out.
Anna and Darlin’, her top milker.
This summer I had a great time volunteering at the Madison High School City Repair project to build an outdoor classroom with a curving cob wall and a green roof. Anna Gordon was in charge of the site, working through the AmeriCorps program to teach kids and the community about organic gardening and sustainability. Behind Madison, there is now a sizeable fenced community garden and right in the middle is the outdoor classroom for people to take shelter, make plans, dream big and enjoy the fruits of their labor. It’s a really great project and it was so fun. If you ever get a chance to cob, do it — it’s amazing what people can accomplish with this material.
Anyway, one of the days we were all working and talking and I discovered that Anna keeps goats! In the city! For milking! We had helped our friends Leah & Greg put up a chicken coop this summer so I knew that you are allowed up to 3 livestock animals inside the city limits. Beyond that, you need a special permit, which Anna’s household has. She is living on a double lot in Northeast Portland as part of a co-op of nearby households. There are 8 people who help oversee the goats and chickens and the garden. They take turns milking and cleaning out the pen and making sure that the goats are healthy and thriving. Darlin’, Cheyenne and baby Mona are very happy goats.
I probably won’t post every time I make another batch of yogurt as it’s so easy and I have a feeling that I have a lot of yogurt making in my future. But, for this batch, we took the yogurt making another step further by using a starter from our last batch.
Sometime last year, Sarah had scoped out that there was a place called Kookoolan Farms doing cheesemaking classes. They are $50 which isn’t a bad price at all but not so low that you wouldn’t think twice about it. We all agreed that we were interested and have been keeping an eye on the schedule. I saw that they had a Hard Cheese class for March and decided to go. Due to schedules, I was the only one of our group that could make it but I’m so glad I did.
Passion is a word that gets bandied about a lot in artisanal food circles. While it is easy to taste the passion that these craftspeople put into their foods, farms, and lifestyles, it is a rare opportunity for those of us living the more urban lifestyle to get out and see it in action. That is why after a delicious day at the Oregon Cheese Guild Cheese Festival and another dry, warm night in our yurt we were off for what, to me, was a major highlight of our southern oregon cheese weekend, Pholia Farm’s Open House.
I’ve started lining up some cheese related books to read over the holidays and even though I was in the middle of Franzen’s memoir I couldn’t resist taking a peek at the first chapter of Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese by Margaret Hathaway and got hooked — I had to read it right to the end!
It’s a quick read covering the travels of two New Yorkers — the author and her fiance — as they cross the U.S. exploring the entire goat world in a quest to discover if they could run their own goat farm. They visit livestock auctions and explore the largely ethnic world of goat meat. They visit goat dairy farms and cheesemaking operations and see a few goat shows where the fanciest and most lovingly cared for goats get to strut their stuff with their owners. The book is full of history and anecdotes about these curious animals and also touches on the current state of small farms and agriculture in the U.S. Totally recommended reading and you can also check out their website where they blog occasionally about life on the farm and if you dip way into their archives you can read blog posts and see photos from the places they visited and the people they met.
My family has been huge fans of the cheese platter for years now. It started when I was like 12 or 14 when my mom made a wrapped brie appetizer for the holidays. Not that cheese wasn’t a huge part of my life prior to this event. I am from the Midwest where dairy has its own sacred place in the food lexicon, but this was the first time that I’d experienced anything outside of the hard block of yellow or white cheese. Since then, there have been numerous cheese platters. Some stand out more than others and while the cheese is definitely the highlight, it also has to do with who you are sharing it with and what you choose to go along with it.
Early this spring my sister and her boyfriend came down for a visit from Seattle and we decided to check out Steve’s Cheese for the first time. Don’t ask me why it took me so long to get over there, but it was years wasted in my opinion. The cheese and cured meats selection was wide and diverse and the service was exceptionally helpful and knowledgeable. The cheese platter we ended up with – largely made up of recommendations – was delightful. I don’t know what other word to use. We paired the cheese and meat with some bread and vegetables that we had picked up at the farmer’s market so we were truly fulfilling the northwest food geek stereotype.
We had three different cheeses all from the pacific northwest. They are all well known cheese makers and I’ve run into these cheeses since then at cheese tastings and counters around town. That said all three are really delicious representations of pacific northwest cheese. The Willamette Valley Cheese’s Boerenkass (a raw cow milk cheese) was mild, but really full of flavor and went really well with the bread and Fra Mani Sopressata.
This was the first time that I had tasted Rivers Edge Chevre’s Up in Smoke (goat milk). This was unbelievably fantastic. I love goat cheese and I’ve never tasted a goat cheese like this – rich, smoky, creamy. I’ve had this over and over again since this first tasting. I liked eating it wrapped in the Iowa applewood smoked durroc ham we got from Steve’s Cheese.
The final cheese was from Estrella Family Creamery. I first had their cheese after visiting the Ballard farmer’s market so this was not a new cheese maker for us, but it was the first time I tasted their Guapier (cow milk). This cheese has a layer of ash running through the center separating the morning and evening milking. There really was a stark difference in taste between the two sides and it made for a fun tasting. It was a really delicious cheese that was really best – in my opinion – eaten by itself.
This was one of those really great cheese experiences. The company was fun and casual and into the cheese. And the cheese lived up to the moment with great flavors.