As the weather gets hotter many cheese lovers take a respite from the meaty, hardy cheeses that so many of us enjoy in colder weather. If a savory piece of Stilton or a pungent, runny little Epoisses doesn’t seem like your sort of thing on a muggy 80 degree day, I can think of no better place to turn than the wide world of goat’s milk cheeses. Their cleaner, brighter flavors might be just the thing to refresh your palate on a summer day, and they tend to work wonderfully with summery wines such as Vinho Verde and Rosé. As any cheese monger would be happy to tell you (for example this one) the world of goat’s milk cheeses is just as varied as any other group of cheese; and as is the case with so many different styles of cheese, American made cheeses are quickly making themselves stand out amongst the pack. We at Di Bruno’s are happy to welcome one of the leading lights of American goat cheese making, Indiana’s own Capriole farms.
Capriole farms started when Judy Schad moved her family from the suburbs to a 80 acre farm in Indiana, like so many American cheese makers, the Schad family were back-to-the-land types who fell into cheese making almost accidentally. They purchased their first goat as part of their son’s 4-H project and afterward they were among the first out there trying to peddle goat’s milk cheeses to the American market. Though goat cheese has become increasingly common over the years, it’s important to remember how exotic it was to many Americans in the 80’s and what a comparatively tough sell it must have been. Eventually, a mixture of fine craftsmanship and enthusiasm won over a loyal audience, and more than two decades and countless awards later, Capriole farms is recognized as one of the true innovators in American cheese making. We are happy to offer a small selection of their aged raw goat’s milk cheese for your enjoyment and think you’ll be as thankful as we are that Judy Schad’s initial kitchen experiments and ongoing commitment to Artisinal cheese making turned out the way they did.
Old Kentucky Tomme:
A most unusual goat’s milk cheese with a texture that ranges anywhere between the springiness of an Asiago Fresco to near spreadable creaminess. Old Kentucky Tomme is a true Goat milk lover’s goat cheese. The tangy, tart flavor of goat’s milk is always first and foremost, but this is tempered somewhat by the buttery, almost mushroom-y flavor that develops over time as the cheese ripens. For those who like a little extra sweet with their tart, I recommend pairing this one up with a dark berry Jam from Rigoni di Asiago, such as black currant or mixed berry.
Mont St. Francis:
Definitely the hardiest of the bunch, the funky little washed rind called Mont St. Francis is still a long way from the meatiness of something like a alpine Scharfe Maxx or Italian Taleggio. The flavor is a mix of the tart and earthy with an almost sweet quality up front. The wide variety of flavors found in this one little cheese make it a perfect partner for an almost impossibly wide selection of food and drink, anything from Zinfindel to IPA, from Pear Mostarda to Peach Chutney. It’s hard to find something that won’t play along with some aspect of this wonderfully complex cheese.
A relatively new addition to the Capriole flock and a great success story for a cheese that started as a one-batch experiment by a Hungarian intern working on the farm. A variation on Old Kentucky Tomme with a firmer paste akin to traditional Italian Fontina or French Tomme de Savoie. This cheese has a good bit more butter in the flavor than the one it evolved from while still retaining it’s goaty tang. It has also absorbed a lot of flavor from its coating of Herbes de Provence, making it something like an American take on the classic Corsican Brin d’amour. The herb coating makes it a perfect pairing for olives and the buttery but tart quality begs to be paired with a rich, full flavored Charcuterie item like Jamon Serrano or Barolo Salami. Like Brin d’amour, it matches up well with a Rosé, making it a perfect summer cheese as well as an outstanding example of the boundless creativity of American cheese making.
Capriole cheeses are available in limited quantity at our shops. To special order online please call 888.332.4337. Ask your cheese monger!
You got me at Mont St. Francis and pear mostarda, Rich. That looks incredible. I love Judy’s Wabash Cannonball, but clearly I need to expand my horizons and try Judy’s other cheeses. Thanks for a great post.
Julianna is our centerfold cheese this issue. It is a true surprise cheese; looks subtle, but it packs a lot of flavor. A lot like Judy herself!