The world blossoms in springtime. The pastures return to their most verdant splendor. Farm animals leave the barn after a long winter of confinement to graze upon fresh, first-grown grasses. Happy animals and the freshest grass and herbs make for spectacular cheeses. Stop by your Fairway cheese counter to celebrate!
From France we get the fromages de chevre: Petit Billy, Rond Cendre, Ste.-Maure, Crottin de Chavignol, Valencay, etc. All of these diminutive cheeses are bright, pristine white (unless ashed black!), sweet, highly moist, soft, tender. As are the fresh chevres from New York State’s Coach Farm, the Spanish Murcia Naked Goat and Drunken Goat, Leon’s Canacabra. Here are a few awesome goat cheeses with which to welcome the Earth’s wildly abundant season.
Pico: A creamy, dainty button of chevre from Perigord, Pico oozes under its thin, wrinkly, edible rind while maintaining a firm, cake-y, lactic center. Minerally, fresh, but also so rich and buttery. Oh man.
Sainte-Maure de Touraine A.O.C: A village south of Tours gave its name to the classic chevre baton with the length of straw stuck down the center to hold the cheese together as it ripens. This is one of the great fromages de chevre de France brought to Fairway by master cheesemonger Steve Jenkins in 1980 for the first time in cheese history.
Queso Clara: A deeee-light. A mitzvah. Serendipity! Dumb luck to have fallen across it. A raw, firm, yet tender handmade RAW goat’s milk cheese, legal (90-days aged), rustic, primitive, shouldn’t exist at all, but one of those cheeses you taste in Europe that makes you say to yourself ‘why can’t I have this cheese at my counters?’ Well, I do. And it’s Queso Clara, and it’s made by a young couple not far from Salamanca in Leon. Has that superb flavor that only comes from raw milk, a sensation on the palate that sends you off into a reverie of being a long way from the Land of Boring Supermarket Cheeses. Serve it with all manner of accompaniment.
Humboldt Fog: Created by Mary Keens at Cypress Grove Chevre in McKinleyville, California, Humboldt Fog is named after Humboldt County’s thick morning fog. It’s an American original—Mary Keens started crafting goat cheeses in the 1980’s—and helped lead the American artisanal cheesemaking revolution. The fog rolls in on a gorgeous wheel of goat’s milk cheese with a clean, lemony, lactic taste which becomes earthier and mustier with age. Cut open the pillowy bloomy rind to find bright white, smooth paste, bisected with a thin line of black vegetable ash. So pretty and festive!
Brunet: This fluffy, silky soft-ripened goat’s milk cheese from the little Piedmontese village of Bosia is luscious as whipped cream, oozy, perfect. Definitely eat the whole thing, rind and all. Brunet tastes like mushrooms, yeast, and sweet, sweet cream. Awesome with sweet beets and an un-oaked Chardonnay. Tear off a hunk of baguette and smear a generous smear, life is good.