Of all the cheeses we make and sell, the City Goat is the one cheese our house is almost never without. I hear it frequently, “I prefer stronger cheese”, “I like cheese with more oomph.” And while I too love the 18 month clothbound cheddar or the two year Comte, it is the subtlety almost bare nakedness of a chevre or goat round that makes it intriguing. Not unlike many people I know, it’s subtle, hard to get to know variations gives it versatility, depth and character.
I often refer to the cheese as the pasta of the cheese world. It’s the base of a number of dishes and the better the quality the more everything that follows is enhanced.
What makes a great chevre?
- Good quality, fresh milk. You can make bad cheese from good milk, but you’ll never make good cheese from bad milk.
- Long, slow setting times. Helps to bring out more of the natural flavor of the milk.
- Hand Ladling. Gentle, gentle, gentle. The curd is very soft and fragile. Breakage results in the loss of butterfat which is the equivelent of saying flavor.
- Paper wrapping. The cheese is alive, meaning that the bacteria cultures that convert the lactose into lactic acid are still active and causing changes in the cheese. And like all living things, the cheese changes as it gets older. Plastic wrapping retards the natural maturing of the cheese by cutting off the air to the bacteria cutlures in the cheese. With fresh goat cheese the change is dramatic in the first few days and slows after that. We make our goat cheese on Sunday, meaning that they come out of their cheese molds on Monday when they are soft with an almost custard like quality, by day three they are firm textured, sliceable and break beautifully, by day six, the cheese flakes and can be crumbled into scrambled eggs or over a salad.