A French Goat, a Spanish Goat and an American Goat Walk Into a Bar…

OK, there’s no punchline, just three fancy cheeses I am lovin’ on lately and think you guys should know about…

Like most Americans, the first 23 or so years of my life were dominated by cheese made from cows. Namely, cheddar, Swiss, American, and String.

Back before the snobby days of food blogs, I thought provolone and havarti were pretty damn fancy, and had no idea that cows were only the beginning. I was amazed to learn that sheep could produce something as phenomenal as pecornio romano, and I was dumbfounded when told that fresh mozzarella doesn’t come from cows at all, but from water buffalo.

Then, at some glorious point in my early post-collegiate life, I stumbled into a fancy-shmancy dinner party and discovered the wondrous beauty that is spun from the teat of a female goat. My life has not been the same since, as there is literally an entire world of soft, creamy, goat’s milk cheeses to be tasted. Here are three that have recently blown my mind, and my palate.

Boucheron – This French goat’s milk cheese comes in a waxy rind that I have to say I’m not crazy about, but it surrounds a soft white middle that is rich, creamy and just a little bit sharp. Most importantly, this is a goat cheese that crumbles in your mouth, not in your hands. Unlike other crumbly goat cheeses and fetas, Boucheron isn’t just for salad – it can be easily spread on a cracker or just sliced and eaten solo.

Nevat – Holy cow goat. This Catalaunian cheese, whose name is Spanish for ‘snowy,’ dares to be different. Nevat goes for the rich and creamy thing without bothering with the crumbles. The consistency is closer to Brie than most goat cheeses, but it still captures that tangy goat cheese thing with just a little bit of sweet thrown in.

Humboldt Fog – I have no idea where California stands in the global cheese pantheon, but if this bad boy is any indication, the Golden State should be getting some serious cheese-loving props. Cypress Grove Chevre, the NoCal company that specializes in goat’s milk cheeses, sums up their signature offering as how: “an elegant, soft, surface ripened cheese. The texture is creamy and luscious with a subtle tangy flavor.” All true, but what they aren’t telling you is that this mofo is some stinky cheese. Seriously. As in hold your nose, put a bag over your head, and don’t inhale, stinky cheese. It’s also a smooth, buttery thing of beauty that should not be missed. (Props to Alison for the recommendation.)

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  • gansie March 3, 2008  

    i’ve been reading about burrata, a mozzarella like cheese. has anyone had it?

  • Tim March 3, 2008  

    Cowgirl Creamery. DC people, this place kicks ass. Yes, it’s expensive, but the cheese and the customer service are diamond level.

    Not only is every cheese they carry amazing, but it clearly indicates the AoO (animal of origin), location, and other fun facts.

  • JoeHoya March 3, 2008  

    BS – Good call on the heads up re: Humboldt Fog’s aroma…that does seem to escape mention in most reviews. Too bad you’re not in DC anymore – I could point you toward quite a few good local places that make goat cheese in a wide range of styles and flavors and who sell them direct to customers at the FreshFarm Farmers’ Markets.

    Gansie – Burrata is good, but you need to be careful about where you get it. And you need to be prepared to pay.

    Authentic burrata is shipped over from Italy and most easily found at Cheesetique – but you can get a local approximation from the good folks at Blue Ridge Dairy – they make a few and sell them at the Dupont Farmers’ Market (and others, I suspect) each week. But the price point is still north of $10.

    When it’s good, it’s a creamy mass of gooey mozzarella strands wrapped up inside a big ball of soft, wet, mozzy goodness. When it’s bad, it’s the same stuff only it smells like sour milk and has that “don’t eat me” tang.

    Tim – Cowgirl is definitely good, and their prices aren’t all that high for what they’re selling. By limiting themselves to artisanal-produced products, they miss out on some really excellent stuff, but what they do carry is well-described, well-presented, and sold by folks who really know their cheese.

    I’ve done writeups of several local cheese shops over at http://www.dcfoodies.com – take a look if you have a minute.

  • MonkeyBoy March 4, 2008  

    BS, they just revoked your Wisconsin-ghetto pass! Something better than cow cheese? Heresy!!

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  • ziege schaf April 2, 2010  

    I really love goat cheese it is really delicous. Most of the time I eat it as a dessert or use it to make a salsa.

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