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Goat Cheese - What say you?

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Yestereday, at our Whole Foods, in Mt. Pleasant, SC, I tasted goat cheese from Fromagerie Belle Chevre (Elkmont, Alabama.) I liked it very much. It was mild (as I think goat cheese should be) and delicious. However, I'm not knowledgeable or experienced with goat cheese. What flavor should a really good goat cheese have? What should I look for? Have you tried Belle Chevre and, if so, what did you think of it?

Another question: What is the best way to eat good goat cheese, i.e., in a salad, on crackers, with fruit or ?
NickSr

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  1. I say yum. It's great torn into pieces/crumbled onto a salad. I usually throw in some craisins or candied nuts to accent the tang of the goat cheese. During the winter, I freeze a tube of goat cheese a couple of minutes, then cut it into 1/2-inch or so rounds. Egg wash, then bread crumb the rounds and bake at 325 for about 10-15 minutes -- 'til they're soft, but not collapsed. Let them cool for a minute, then put them on your salad. That's a meal salad at my house, not a side salad.

    Goat cheese is also wonderful as part of a bruschetta. Spread a little of it on toasted Italian or rustic bread on which a cut clove of garlic has been rubbed, then top with fresh diced tomatoes that have been mixed with minced onion and garlic. Again, the goat cheese gives a nice tang, as well as acting like kind of a glue, keeping the tomatoes on the bread. I would think goat cheese would go very nicely with most fruit as well.

    I often buy the Trader Joe's tube -- I don't recall the name. The label is silver with a little goat face on it. Your goat cheese is probably a few steps up the artisan ladder. Enjoy!

    1. I agree with Harrie - baked goat cheese is delicious on a bed of greens w/ a light vinagrette.

      For a summer dessert, I partially quarter ripe mission figs, stuff goat cheese in the middle, and bake at 375F for 10-12 minutes (until the cheese has bubbled and is slightly golden). Let them cool until you can handle them without burning your fingers (5 min?) and then drizzle them with honey. I've also seen people sprinkle jullienned mint or basil on top.

      1 Reply
      1. re: adrienne156

        Oh, and to clarify, I'm referring to chevre.

      2. I hate to do this again, but I will.

        Saying "what's goat cheese like?" is akin to saying "What's cow cheese like?". There are literally hundreds of cheeses made from goat's milk Are you talking about the milder, younger, white cheese that's usually found vacuum packed, and a spreadable/crumbly texture? Usually marketed in this country as "chevre"?

        6 Replies
        1. re: cheesemonger

          I have to agree with you. When in Vail Co a couple of years ago we found a wonderful selection at a farmers market. Some young and some aged. More flavorful than chevre which is quite mild by comparison.

          1. re: cheesemonger

            Thank you :)

            My favorite is Chevre Noir, more or less an aged goat milk cheddar style cheese.

            1. re: cheesemonger

              Our friends are obviously talking about fresh chevre, the most commonly sold form of goat's milk cheese.

              As NickSr imagines, many fresh chevres (as is the case with most fresh or briefly aged cheeses) are quite mild and deliciously creamy. Even within the bounds of fresh chevre, one can find countless varieties in taste, texture and quality. As with every other form of cheese, I'd steer away from anything that's "processed," comes from an unidentifiable source, or is mass produced. OK, that's only half true. I'd be lying terribly if I claimed to only eat artisanal, or farmstead, handmade cheeses. I too can often be found mowing a three-pound brick of Crayola-orange Tillamook cheddar. I've enjoyed plastic tubes of processed chevre in all shapes and sizes. I've even (get ready for this one) used pre-shredded kraft cheese-like-whatever-it-is in a jam.

              I can't suggest that anyone stop enjoying those types of cheese. I can and emphatically do suggest that one not limit oneself to those familiar staples.

              Whole Foods generally seems to have a pretty decent cheese selection and hopefully a pretty knowledgeable staff working behind the cheese counter (that is, if a cheese counter exists in your Whole Foods. Maybe I shouldn't always assume that's the case...). If your interested in sampling some more interesting goat's milk cheeses, ask an employee for a recommendation. Were I working at that Whole Foods and if that Whole Foods resembled mine (in Saint Paul, MN) I'd recommend the boucheron, which they generally seem to have in stock and sells well enough that it won't be inedibly old.

              Boucheron, a briefly aged (5-10 weeks) goat's milk cheese from France's Loire Valley, has an accommodatingly mild flavor and interesting texture. Boucheron belongs to the family of "soft-ripened" or "bloomy-rind" cheeses, along with more well known Brie, Munster, Livarot, etc. Accordingly, Boucheron has that "Brie-like" rind and the paste (the interior of the cheese) near the rind is similar to Brie in appearance and flavor. Because a soft-ripened cheese ages from the outside towards the center, the middle of a disk of Boucheron is much firmer and drier than the edges and more closely resembles a fresh chevre. As I've mentioned, Boucheron is approachably mild and might provide a gateway to a wider world of goat cheesy exploration and appreciation.

              1. re: Michael Juhasz

                Thank you, Michael, for the info and suggestions. Our Whole Foods has an almost overwhelming (at least to me) cheese department and is in the process of expanding. it.This affords me ample opportunity for exploration and appreciation, as you said.

              2. re: cheesemonger

                Bravo! many kinds, many tastes many ripenings and textures. Boundless! And please...try them all!

                1. re: cheesemonger

                  I checked the notes I made afterwards. The cheeses were all chevre. One was in a log shape, sprinkled with herbs. Two had been marinated in extra-virgin olive oil; one of these had sun-dried tomato with the olive oil, the other had the olive oil and herbs. Perhaps that narrows it down a little

                2. OMG, goat cheese is one of my favorite things to eat on this planet! With some nice crackers and a glass of red wine, I'm in heaven! I also love it schmeared under the skin of a chicken breast and baked. My only complaint is that the grocery stores here (FL) only seem to sell French goat cheese, that's it! No California goat cheese and certainly not any from Alabama...which I would LOVE to try! Not against French cheeses, just looking to try other sources of goat cheese, that's all! We do have a Wild Oats in town now, so I might need to check out their cheeses.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Val

                    Val, very glad that to you goat cheese doesn't have to be French (although good).

                    I loved finding the less salty goat's milk cheeses in the altiplano of Bolivia in the late 70s: devine! And matched with the local breads that came out of the ovens at 4:00 pm and the great local reds from Tarija!

                  2. In Spain, milder goat cheeses are often served as dessert with a drizzle of honey, jam, or membrillo, a quince paste. If you limit yourself to mild goat cheese, you are missing out...give Cabrales a try and splurge on some Humboldt Fog, you won't regret it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: moo moo chowcow

                      We make excellent goat's cheeses of all kinds here in Québec. Other than ours, and French cheese, (and Skotidakis' Greek style goat cheeses from nearby Eastern Ontario) I've had goat's cheeses from Italy (many, many kinds, often hard and aged), the Netherlands - goat goudas, both young and aged, and other types, Spain, Portugal, and Germany. (I'm sure I'm forgetting some places). Haven't happened to have any from either the US or Mexico, though I'm sure I will...

                      I'm lactose intolerant and handle cow's milk products, even cheeses, badly, while I have no problem with goat's or ewe's cheeses, so I'm sure I've had an extensive sample.

                      "Chèvre" (there should be a grave accent) simply means "goat" in French, and is also used as short for "fromage de chèvre" in our language. Here gendered articles are a help, as "la chèvre" is a nanny-goat, and "le chèvre" the cheese (masculine - le fromage) produced from her milk. Her bf is "le bouc" (billy-goat).

                      I guess "chèvre" means fresh goat's cheese in English because that was the first type available to an English-speaking cheese-eating public? We'd call it "chèvre frais"...

                      It is nice on croûtons made from crusty bread - a French bistro classic and about the only thing vegetarians can eat in Paris is a green salad with goat's cheese (usually "crottins de Chevignol") on croûtons. These are made by slicing a bagette or ficelle into little rounds, not the hard, squarish croûtons ready-made for soups and salads.

                      It is also divine crumbled and used on an otherwise fairly simply dressed pizza - with red onions is very nice.

                    2. In a subsequent post you say that you tried marinated samples, etc. which I think would typically be served on bread or crackers. I love plain chevre tho, crumbled into salads, as a pizza topping (especially w/pesto!), with fresh fruit...laura chenel chevre, out of sonoma county, is my favorite.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: nancyhudson

                        You ever try Laura Chenel's aged tomme?

                        It was my favorite cheese of last summer.

                        Nothing too fancy, but a really well crafted, honest, aged chevre.

                      2. Take fresh goat's cheese, marinate in extra virgin olive oil with fresh herbs, then wrap in grape leaves and grill. This is to die for.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pitterpatter

                          You are right, that is exquisite.. And a wonderful thing to serve vegetarians (and others) at a barbeque. You can do the same with a goat's milk feta - the local one here is Skotidakis, form St-Eugene in Eastern Ontario, between Montréal and Ottawa.

                        2. I've never been able to stand the taste of any goat's cheese except feta. There's a skunky funkiness to all the ones I've tried that I find horribly off-putting.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: bachslunch

                            bachslunch, you have to try the chevres from Fromagerie Belle Chevre if at all available. All of them I have tried have been fresh and flavorful. Actually, all other goat cheeses I have had have never had a "skunky funkiness". Judging by the earlier posts, others haven't had that experience either. What goat cheeses have you tried that gave you that result? Were they fresh? Did you eat them by themselves or with other foods?

                            1. re: NickSr

                              I've tried goat cheese in restaurants (on/in salads mostly) in fancy and not so fancy places, and after about the fifth go, I stopped. I've tried different goat cheeses at various wine-and-cheese receptions and parties as well as when they're being offered at tastings in stores -- several times over. Even when I'm not told what kind of cheese it is, nearly all the time I've had a cheese I didn't like, it was a goat cheese.

                              In short, I've had goat cheeses that were ripened and not, eaten by themselves and with other foods, and (one would presume) were fresh. There aren't too many other foods I don't like, but this genre is one of them, and I've given it several opportunities. And I otherwise love cheese.

                              Maybe I'll give the one you mentioned a try -- never hurts to revisit a dislike once in a while.

                          2. A medium-rare lamburger topped with a round of chevre sprinkled with crushed dried rosemary between a fresh onion roll.

                            1. As cheesemonger states above, there are so many different kinds of goat cheese. Sounds like you're trying fresh chevre, and if so, there are many choices, from Laura Chenel in CA and Coach Farms in NY to a multitude of small, artisan producers. You won't get good, imported fresh chevre very often, simply due to the time it takes to ship.

                              IMO, the greatest goat cheeses in the world are Monte Enebro from Spain and Le Lingot du Quercy from France. The first is a semi-soft, somewhat spreadable goat cheese encased in grey mold and produced in logs that average around 3 lbs. It has a beautiful, rich and creamy texture and a luxurious lactic taste with that good goat tang. The second is a mall, 5 or 6 oz. rectangle that is known as the cheese of two textures, having a wonderful, velvety edible rind over a smooth, softer interior.

                              New discovery for me is the cheeses of Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy outside Boulder, CO. They have a washed rind raw goat, Red Cloud, that is amazing, but strong, and another raw goat called Sunlight that is also excellent.

                              For my tastes, the best way to eat a good goat cheese is by hand, or served on good crusty bread, with a ripe apple or really ripe cherries. Try your goat with Sauvignon Blanc, a classic match. We also often use interesting dressings to drizzle over our goat cheese. Some of the best matches we've discovered are Orange Blossom honey, Doce de Tomate (tomato jam), and a great Sour Cherry with Lemon Balm jam we get from Palette.

                              Get creative and have fun. The best thing about learning cheese, wine, whatever, is the homework is the best part!

                              1. My favorite fresh unripened Chevre available here is Le Petit Billy from France. It is mild, creamy, and luscious.

                                I serve many ways.

                                Drizzled with EVOO and garnished with Sundried Tomatoes

                                Sprinkled all over with Herbes de Provence, wrapped and refrigerated for a day or two, then served drizzled with EVOO and a salad.

                                Drizzled with Lavender Honey from Provence.

                                Everyone goes wild over it.

                                I have found it at Fairway, Garden of Eden, and Murray's.

                                1. keep an eye open for Humboldt Fog - absolutely terrific

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ibstatguy

                                    Yeah, it's a nice "transition" cheese from chevre to other, more flavorful types. I love it when it's young and mostly chalky, and also when it's ripe and gooey and brie-like around the chalky interior. Don't be put off by the line of ash in the middle--it's beautiful!

                                  2. If you can find it, try Boule de Quercy. So fresh and soooo good. Here is a link to some info on it. http://formaggio-kitchen.com/shop/pro...

                                    Another one of my favorites is a French goat cheese that is aged in ash. The name is escaping me.

                                    As for what to do with the cheese... If I buy a really nice kind, like the two mentioned above, I'll just have it on some bread with some truffle oil drizzled on top. Amazing. If I'm getting a cheaper, more basic kind (usually a fresh chevre log from Trader Joe's) I love using it on pizza, in risotto, with roasted veggies, ect. Its also terrific with a sweet onion spread. Have fun and experiment!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: thunderbug84

                                      the french goat in ash is probably Valencay (pyramid shaped) or Selles Sur Cher (disc). Pretty much the same cheese inside, quite delicious when ripe.

                                      1. re: rotie77

                                        Mmm... its Valencay, and its delicious! Thanks!

                                    2. I would lick good chevre off of almost anything, frankly. I've had it layered with whipped cream cheese and various herbs and presented as a loaf, spread onto Boston brown bread, rolled up in thin slices of lox, beaten up with sour cream or créme fraiche as a crudités dip. Just for grins I smeared some on a fried catfish sandwich and wished immediately that I wasn't alone so I could give someone else a bite.

                                      As for other goat cheeses, the only one I didn't like was the first one I tried, that gummy brown Swedish or Norwegian stuff called gjetost (which I think just means "goat cheese"). This girl was one of my favorite eating buddies, whose food passions I mostly shared and whose taste I trusted utterly, and one day she said, "Here, this is one of my favorite things - take a bite," and I did. My mouth and nose were suddenly swamped (good word!) with the taste of Goat Roadkill - exactly what people fear goat milk, cheese or meat is going to taste like, and it mostly never does. Greasily, gaggingly goaty; it took me a good week to get my mouth rid of it, and somewhat longer to trust Mary's taste again.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                        Gjetost is a caramelized whey product. It's distinct flavor is probably more a result of the caramelized sugars than the type of milk used. I've never had a goat-y tasting gjetost, and I love offensive flavors.

                                      2. I'm going to put in a stronger bid for non-European/US/Canada: there are a lot of good rustic goat cheeses throughout Latin America.