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There's goat cheese, and then there's GOAT CHEESE

  • Meg Mar 7, 2007 12:13 PM
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...and I'm looking for the latter. I recently discovered how much I like it after coming to the realization that what I'd had before was the lesser quality stuff. Just had the real stuff at a French restaurant over the weekend and can't stop thinking about it. I've got company coming on Saturday and want to serve it for an app., but have NO idea what brand to buy. Whole Foods and Wegmanns have so many to choose from I don't know where to begin. Please help....I don't want just any goat cheese (and I'd prefer the plain, pure kind my first time outa the shoot).

TIA

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  1. Check out Humboldt Fog. It's made by a small company out in California.
    website:
    http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/che...

    I'm fairly sure they carry it at Whole Foods. Let it come to room temp and it will get nice and creamy and the subtle flavors will come out.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Gnu23

      I offer a very LOUD second to your Humboldt Fog rec. This is -- in the poster's voice -- GOAT CHEESE (not goat cheese) at its best!

      1. re: liu

        I third this recommendation.

        1. re: PseudoNerd

          fourth ...

          1. re: Chocolatechipkt

            fifth. I could live off that cheese.

            1. re: sivyaleah

              I'm intrigued by the resounding endorsements, but I have to say that the "ring of edible ash" doesn't sound so appetizing. I can only presume that the ash doesn't taste like "ash."

              1. re: Meg

                Interesting - I didn't know it was 'ash', i thought it was a moldy vein sort of like blue cheeses. It's all good to me though - ash, mold, mud. Yes some cheese rinds are covered with mud - it all depends if you're rind person or not.

                1. re: Meg

                  It's such a negligably small ring of ash that you don't even notice it. More like a dusting than a solid layer.

                  1. re: Meg

                    Vegetable ash doesn't taste "ashy" and is a traditional french method. This is a delicious goat cheese and the name is apt. It has a delicate ethereal texture.

                    1. re: Meg

                      You taste nothing but wonderful goat cheese. The ash has no flavor. I sixth this recommendation.

                    2. re: sivyaleah

                      Go for it...it doesn't get much better than that!

            2. Whole Foods will let you sample all of their cheese (it's an official corporate policy to always provide samples upon request). I never buy cheese from a cheesemonger that doesn't sample, because cheese changes from day to day, from batch to batch, from season to season, etc. Ask the cheese person for some goat cheese recs, sample them all, and then buy what you like.

              1. i dont know where you are located exactly, but if you are within reasonable traveling distance to nyc, it would be well worth your while to get to Artisanal fromagerie, on 32nd and park. You can dine there, or just go to the retail counter and taste any of their 175+ types of real cheese, not the pasteurized bullshit. They age the cheese themselves in onsite cheese caves. They have the best kinds of cheeses from all over the world, including many from right here in the us. And you can stand there and taste every goat cheese they have until you find the pefect cheese for you.

                1 Reply
                1. re: fisheat3

                  Unfortunately I'm in VA, but was in the city last weekend and wish I'd know about this place. It sounds divine. I'd have likely whiled away a whole day there.

                2. I find good quality artisan goat cheese at local farmer's markets. If you have any near you you should check it out. If goat cheese is availble I am sure you will be able to sample before purchasing.

                  1. maybe you haven't had necessarily all lesser quality stuff, it could be that it just wasn't aged enough for your tastes. was the cheese at the restaurant semi-firm? if so, it was probably aged a little bit. in general americans seem to like their goat cheese on the young side, while the french seem to like theirs aged. i'm with the french on this one, there's just so much more flavor to be had!

                    look for an edible ash on the outside of it, that's usually a sign it's been aged. ask questions, they should know what they're doing. at whole foods you might be able to find selles sur cher.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: the word yes

                      I once had a discussion with a French cheesemaker at our local farmer's market about liking strong goat cheese. She said most people in Minnesota don't, so they sell their cheeses young - too young, in her opinion. But she gave me a great tip: just leave the fresh goat cheese in the refrigerator for a month or two (or three). It keeps aging and eventually tastes really good.

                      Note that I'm talking about the creamy, soft, squishy type of goat cheese that usually comes in a log or round shape and is sealed in plastic. You know - the fresh stuff with the texture of cream cheese. I don't think I would try this with the crumbly-but-still-kinda-soft style of goat cheese. And hard goat cheese, like Goat Gouda, has already been aged.

                      Anne

                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        AnneInMpls -- If we are speaking the same cheese language, and I think we are, I have been purchasing Humboldt Fog at a specialty market here in Southern Cal, and it has a dark, creamy layer of about 1/2inch around the cheese. It is the piece de resistance (sorry, I don't have the accents for this!). It is heavenly! I believe that this is the aging that you refer to. I have also purchased this same brand of Humboldt at other markets and it does not have this layer of creamy cheese (almost brie-like). I suspect that these latter markets do not serve their cheeses at the "proper" time.

                        1. re: liu

                          Actually, the goat cheese that I "refrigerator age" is quite different from a Humboldt Fog-type cheese with a dark outer layer. When I get Humboldt Fog, it doesn't sit around long enough to age - I eat it all right away. (Oooooh, now I have to go buy some!)

                          The ones I age are more like this:

                          http://www.amazon.com/Goat-Cheese-Mil...

                          But this highlights another aspect of "There's goat cheese, and then there's GOAT CHEESE" . There are several styles of goat cheese, which leads to much confusion when discussing them. Or cooking with them (one of my pet peeves is that recipes almost never say which style of goat cheese they mean). Ile de France logs are different from crottin du chavignol, which is different from Humboldt Fog, which is different from wine-cured goat cheese, which is different from Goat Gouda, and on and on ... This Amazon link shows lots of different varieties.

                          http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_i_1...

                          To get back to the OP's question - I would recommend calling the restaurant and asking what kind of cheese it was. I'm sure the restaurant would love to know that their goat cheese was a life-changing experience for you!

                          Anne

                    2. Capriole Farms here in Indiana makes some of the best goat cheese I've ever tasted. They make several different varieties, and have won some prestigious awards. You can find their cheese at upscale markets around the country, or check out their website. (My favoriet is the stinky-when-old Mont St. Francis.)

                      1. Haystack Mountain Dairy in Boulder has some of the best domestic goat cheeses going. I love Red Cloud - a washed rind, raw milk cheese that simply rocks.

                        1. Laura Chenel.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Grubbjunkie

                            Laura Chenel sold her company so I'm not sure if the quality will remain the same-- she made some amazing cheeses!

                            Here's the link to the NYT article last fall:
                            http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/18/din...

                          2. Try Adante Dairy. Dean and Deluca carries it in Georgetown. California made, very artisinal.

                            1. If you do not use it all please freeze your remainder immediately. Goat cheese deteriorates very quickly and will taste odd and off if kept in the fridge even a day or so.

                              You can crumble your excess over your next pizza or pasta - or rolled up inside a loaf of crusty bread...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sianyoga

                                In my experience, goat cheese keeps very nicely if you wrap it in a fresh piece of waxed paper every day, put it in a paper bag, and keep in your cheese/meat drawer.

                              2. We buy, almost exclusively, goat cheese made by the Vermont Butter and Cheese Co.
                                Here's a link to their web site: http://www.vtbutterandcheeseco.com/
                                We like the creaminess and tangy but somewhat mild flavor. Trader Joe's sells twice the size log as does most other markets for almost half the price.

                                1. I have to put a word in for chevres from Westfield Farm in Massachusetts. They sell both fresh and aged cheeses, all excellent. They also have a smoked (fresh) chevre that I think is out of this world. I've seen their cheeses at Whole Foods; I'm not positive whether they're carried by WF across the country or just locally, but if not they also snagged the website www.chevre.com and take orders there. There are too many aged chevres in the world to have a favorite, but their fresh cheese is my benchmark.

                                  1. I second pikawicca's nomination of Capriole - I love the O'Banon - chestnut leaves soaked in Bourbon make the cheese delightfully creamy.
                                    http://www.capriolegoatcheese.com/ind...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Spoonula

                                      Capriole, undoubtedly. I am BLESSED to be able to buy Capriole cheese just blocks from my house at the farmers' market. I love O'Bannon, but my favorite is one that's sprinkled with herbs de provence before it's aged (the name escapes me--also, it's not a fresh cheese).

                                      Another stellar option is the Torta, made up of layers of fresh goat cheese mixed with sun-dried tomatoes, basil and pine nuts, etc. I toss a chunk in with fresh greens and a bit of vinegar (the "cheese guy" at the market gave me the idea), and it creates a scrumptious dressing.

                                    2. Thanks Hounds for such wonderful detailed responses! I feel officially edumacated.

                                      Though there were some contradictions above, so I'm curious, what's the consensus on whether goat cheese can "age" in the fridg, or has a short shelf life and needs eaten once opened (not that I forsee that being a problem). Or is dependent on the age/hardness of the cheese?

                                      I have to report that I stopped at Trader Joe's last night to grab a bottle of vino before heading to a friend's, and needless to say the cheese aisle was calling me. I didn't recognize any of the name brands (none that were mentioned above) so knowing that TJ's was started originally as a cheese import business (from Europe after the war) I grabbed their private-labeled log of chevre.....and really liked it. So much so that I ate half of it by myself - on crackers topped with TJ's roasted red pepper, egglplant and garlic spread ($1.69), it was heavenly. Though now I'm extra curious to do some comparison tastings with your recommendations. Headed to the store tonight to shop for dinner party on Saturday and will be taking a print out of this string.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Meg

                                        If you're serious about cheese, avoid buying it pre-cut and wrapped if at all possible. You never know when it was cut, how ripe/old it was at that point, or how long it's been in the case. Basically, your cheese is more likely to taste like the plastic it's wrapped in than the cheese itself.

                                        If you have a standalone cheese shop in your area, go there and taste from the wheel before you buy. You'll be amazed at the flavor! A second choice - and only if no cheese shop is available - try Whole Foods and request to taste any cheeses of interest. Before buying cheese at TJs or ANY other supermarket, I'd go to cheese.com (igourmet), murrayscheese.com (Murray's in NY) or artisanal.com (Artisanal in NY). You'll get quality cheese, cut to order (albeit, not the same day you're receiving it) and cared for by cheese professionals, not just grocery workers. I've worked in supermarkets and now own a cheese shop and believe me, the level of care is incredibly varied.

                                        1. re: mimosa

                                          Great insight, thanks Mimosa. Since you own a cheese shop, are you familiar with a cheese called Carmody? Had it at a wine tasting in Sonoma and loved it, but I can't find it anywhere. I looked through a cheese encylopedia at Whole Foods and it wasn't listed. So I Googled it and from what I can tell it's only produced by one company, Bell Wether Farms in Sonoma. Have you heard of it, or is this their own specialty "brand" of cheese? We actually had the Pepato version with whole peppercorns. It was delicious, especially paired with a Zin, and have been searching for it since.

                                          http://www.bellwetherfarms.com/home/

                                          1. re: Meg

                                            Am quite familiar with Carmody - we carry it regularly. Bellwether calls it 'an Italian table cheese' and it's theirs exclusively. They also do a reserve of it but I prefer the younger one personally. Have you tried mahon? It's a Spanish cheese from Menorca and is fairly common. We have a curado/aged one as well as a 4mo version. The younger is the closest in similarity to Carmody - try some, you may find a new fave.

                                            Their pepato is made with sheep's milk (Carmody comes from happy California cows). The pepper and richness would pair well with a zin. FYI, 'pepato' is not a Bellwether exclusive, but is modeled after a fairly common Italian pecorino (sheep cheese). Google 'pecorino pepato' and you may find some interesting imported ones to try.

                                            What part of the world are you in? If you don't have a local resource, definitely check out igourmet or Murray's. They deliver high quality product and I fully recommend them. Still, actually visiting a cheese shop is a lot more fun!

                                            1. re: mimosa

                                              Ah, good to know. The portion of their site in which you enter your zip to find local retailers isn't working. I'm in VA, just outside DC. I don't suppose your shop is local?

                                              Don't know Mahon, but will definitely look for it.

                                              1. re: Meg

                                                We're on the other side of the country from you - San Diego. I'm told there is a great cheese shop in Alexandria. Don't know the name but I'm sure you can find it pretty easily. Some customers were vacationing here and told me about it.

                                                Good luck!

                                      2. Get thee to Arrowine http://www.arrowine.com/cheese.html, Cheesetique http://www.cheesetique.com/cheeses.php, or Cowgirl Creamery http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/aboutu.... Yeah, the same Cowgirl as in the SF Ferry Building.
                                        You live close to three fabulous stand-alone cheese shops where you can not only buy great goat cheese from a good selection at the proper stage of ripeness, but you will be able to deal with the cheese buyers and proprieters of the shops who really care. Not with chain stores like TJ, WF and Wegman's.
                                        Cheesetique offers regular classes to help you learn. I had a wonderful soft chevre from Cowgirl last weekend that was over the top good. Also got fabulous Spanish almonds there.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                          I know Arrowine well, in fact they were kind enough to create a cheese & wine of the month delivery for my brother for christmas a few years back. I got the idea from the Williams Sonoma catalog but didn't want to pay their prices, so called Arrow. They jumped at the chance and put so much thought into it every month, it was so appreciated. I just haven't been in ages. Didn't know about Cheestique or CowGirl, thanks for the tips.

                                        2. A lot of the farmer's markets in the DC area have fresh goat cheese. Firefly Farms is a good one to try (and is now available in WF etc, too.)

                                          1. I like Coach Farm goat cheeses, I think they're pretty available along the East Coast. They never wrap their cheese in plastic, and their cheeses are very tasty.
                                            I agree with the poster who said to seek out local producers - you never know what you may discover.

                                            1. A sometimes sublime and always reliable goat cheese is Valencay -- WF often has it.

                                              1. I heartily second the numerous recs for igourmet. I've ordered from them for years, and have always been happy with their cheeses. I particularly like getting e-mails about their specials -- these have led me to try many new and unknown (to me) types of cheese.

                                                1. Humboldt Fog is a great chevre to be sure, if you can find it. Since you're in VA
                                                  you might try Elodie Farms. I had the pleasure of meeting the owner at the Durham Farmers Market, I had never had goat cheese that fresh (12 hours to be exact) and
                                                  creamy. I highly recomend checking them out. Here's their website:
                                                  http://www.elodiefarms.com/

                                                  1. Since I'd only repeat myself and others by suggesting Humboldt Fog (again with the repetition!), how 'bout a goat gouda?