Springtime in the cheese world often means really good goat cheese, especially the fresh and slightly ripened versions that showcase the light and citrusy milk that goats produce this time of year.
In the spring the sweet grasses, flowers and herbs are beginning to grow, and the goats are allowed to pasture after the winter. They get to feast on the plethora of vegetation and produce what many say is superior milk.
If you think you don’t like goat cheese, this is the time to try it again. You may just move into summer a newly converted goat cheese lover. The light, not too fatty nature of these cheeses calls for light white wines or even ice tea.
If you go with a fresh goat cheese, check out Landeria Farm’s Sweet Meadow Chevre. In cheese, “fresh” just means a cheese that is not ripened or aged. Fresh cheeses are characteristically soft, spreadable and great for things like sandwiches, salads and cooking.
Landeria Farm is in Olathe, and it makes a wide range of goat cheeses. But it’s spring, so why not go with the fresh? I really like the Chevre with Herbes de Provence, but all of Landeria’s fresh cheeses are great.
On the ripened side, I really like an Italian cheese called Brunet from Piedmont. The cheese maker ages this light and tangy cheese for only a couple weeks. It has a delicate, wrinkly, bloomy rind that generally grows only on the top and sides of the cheese. Because the cheese is not flipped, too little oxygen gets to the bottom of the cheese to grow the rind. The result is a cheese that has a small cream line just under the rind, silky and runny. But the middle of the cheese is dense and still fresh with the consistency of cheesecake.
Last but not least, Cherbourg from Baetje Farms in Bloomsdale, Mo., is a great seasonal goat and sheep cheese. It is mixed milk, but spring is the time for this cheese. I can’t promise we will have it for very long, so come get some if you can. This is a washed-rind cheese with a little funk, but the flavor is bright and earthy. Cherbourg looks like Missouri’s version of Italian Taleggio with its square shape.
My favorite way to enjoy all three of these great spring goat cheeses is with a loaf of crusty bread and a drizzle of honey. Try either Tupelo or Acacia. These mild honeys do not overpower the mild yet complex flavors of the cheeses. And, of course, the salty and sweet contrast is one of the all-time great discoveries in cheese history.
Spring is in the air! It has been a long winter, but the goats are out on the pasture. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it just happens to be goat cheese.
Lincoln Broadbooks loves cheese. He is one of the first cheesemongers in the United States and Canada to become an American Cheese Society-certified cheese professional. He is the manager and buyer for the Better Cheddar in Prairie Village. You can find him on Twitter @LincolnBbooks and on Instagram @lincycheese.