Falling for Goat Cheese

May 27, 2009

I’ll be honest. The first time I had goat cheese I did not care for it. There was something about the tart and tangy taste that would take some getting used to for me. After my somewhat negative flavor experience I began to find myself sifting through beautiful recipes in the food blogging world and feeling like a bit of an outcast because I wasn’t crazy about goat cheese.

After a little research I’ve realized that my first encounter was with chevre – the fresh, soft, French-style. I haven’t had it in a long while so I can’t be sure my tastes haven’t changed, but because of this experience I’ve stayed away from goat cheeses.

Well, until a couple weeks ago.

At that time I was in the middle of my visit to Lexington, KY, where I lived prior to my move abroad. I was scheduled to run a 5K that Saturday morning, but I got up early just so I could make a round at the Farmer’s Market before heading out to the event. As I was walking down the street I noticed a cheese vendor out of the corner of my eye.

The gentleman manning the booth was in the process of setting out samples as he was speaking to a customer about his product. I overheard the conversation and quickly learned that it was goat cheese. But wait. It didn’t look anything like the goat cheese I had before.

It was sliced in wedges from a round wheel of cheese and had a beautiful molded rind around the exterior. I could smell the intoxicating aroma as he pulled the different varieties out of the box. After their conversation ended I took the opportunity to learn more about this goat cheese.

Well, first of all, it is a local Kentucky product from a company called Sapori D’Italia. Second, they are Artisan Cheese Makers producing authentic “old world” Italian cheeses. How authentic? Well, the Cheese Master is from Napoli. Who knew we had such wonderful Italian culture in good ol’ Kentucky!

I was given a sample, and remembering my past experience, I gave it a chance but was expecting the worst. The final call – I had some of the most amazing cheese I have ever tasted! I am not exaggerating. It was fantastic!

He had carefully removed the rind and you might expect that the flavor would go with it, but the herbs that encrusted the outside had seeped into the cheese giving it the most amazing flavor. The texture was somewhat crumbly like a feta, but the moment it hit your tongue it became creamy and smooth.

I later learned that I had sampled the Caciotta Alpina al Erbe, a variety encrusted and aged in Italian herbs. This is only one of six types they make, according their web-site.

After talking a bit about my work and food blogging I was given a generous sample of a wedge to enjoy later. Since I was in a hotel at the time I don’t have any fabulous recipes to share with you using it, but honestly this cheese needs no co-star.

I ate it by itself and enjoyed every bite. I can only imagine how wonderful it would be with some sweet fruit or atop a leafy green salad.

The good news is the availability of this goat cheese is spreading quite rapidly. In addition to the Lexington Farmer’s Market it can be found in many stores in Lexington and Louisville, KY as well as stores in Ohio including some Whole Foods. It is also served in a variety of restaurants in the area. You can find out more about availability here.

If you have the opportunity to get your hands on some of this cheese I would highly recommend it. I am happy to say that I am now truly a lover of goat cheese.

For the record that is my parent’s goat. Non-dairy, but she’s darn cute!

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  • Amy May 27, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    In general I don’t like goats but that is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. And I love ALL goat cheese but I’m glad you found some you like

  • Erica May 28, 2009 at 4:11 am

    I didn’t like it at first either and now I’m a fan! A local place makes a grilled cheese out of a mixture of goat cheese and mozarella that is out of this world!

  • Alison May 28, 2009 at 4:59 am

    Love the post! I was a fan of goat cheese upon first bite, to my great surprise. Feta was the cheese that I had trouble liking. I used to substitute goat cheese for feta on menus. Slowly I got used to it and now I like feta’s sharp taste just as much as the typically milder goat cheese.

  • lauren May 28, 2009 at 5:13 am

    I am a HUGE fan of goat cheese and cant seem to get enough. My favorite combos are a spinach salad topped with beets and goat cheese OR mix goat cheese with refried black beans, heat it up and serve with tortilla chips. It is really GOOD!

    and that little goat is adorable. Hope you have been well! 🙂

  • 5 Star Foodie May 28, 2009 at 5:14 am

    Local artisanal cheeses are so wonderful, we love discovering new ones all the time. We will look for this one at Whole foods, sounds like an excellent goat cheese.

  • Emily May 28, 2009 at 5:58 am

    I <3 goat cheese so much – it just always seems perfect! Cute goat too!

  • Andrea (Off Her Cork) May 28, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Awesome! I just had a similar experience with sheep’s milk cheese. I will definitely keep an eye out for that cheese!

  • Michelle @ Find Your Balance May 28, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    My mouth is watering. I love all kinds of goat cheese! I’m glad you found one you like too. Heaven.

  • The Happy Runner May 28, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I love, love, love goat cheese! There is a really good goat gouda at my farmer’s market. It’s so tasty!

  • Tangled Noodle May 28, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    It took me a while to learn to appreciate the huge variety of cheeses beyond the usual suspects of cheddar and mozzarella. Goat cheeses are definitely high on the list. I think we should all make it a point to re-try foods that we didn’t like the first time around – as we experience different flavors, I think our tastebuds become more keen and, like your experience with this, we may be pleasantly surprised!

  • Selba May 28, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    It’s very difficult to find goat cheese here in Indonesia. The last time I had it is when I was in Turkey 🙂

  • Lori May 29, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Amy – I think I might need to introduce you to our goats. You might change your mind. 😉

    Erica – That sounds awesome. This definitely would make a fabulous grilled cheese. Thanks for the idea!

    Alison – I was just the opposite. I loved feta. Good idea about the substitutes though. They both seem to work well with similar dishes.

    Lauren – I’m definitely trying it with the black beans. That sounds wonderful!

    5 Star – They are always worth every extra effort and sometimes extra dollars to get them. I’m rarely disappointed with artisanal cheeses. There is something about that special touch.

    Emily – Thanks. She’s the youngest of the group of 5. A big ham for the camera.

    Andrea – My husband tried sheeps milk cheese when traveling and he wasn’t a fan. I’m interested to try it now that I’ve grown to like goat cheese.

    Michelle – Yes, now I will definitely be searching out some new flavors and getting creative with it in my cooking.

    Happy Runner – Goat gouda? Oh wow, gouda is my all time favorite. I really need to look this up.

    Tangled Noodle – Definitely advice to live by. I’ve found a lot of foods that I am liking now that I once didn’t. We are in heaven in Europe with all the fabulous cheeses there. Brazil has some unique ones, but the variety is lacking.

    Selba – That’s really interesting. I’d love to know what kinds of cheeses are popular where you are.

  • cathy May 29, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I’m so happy to hear that you have come around to goat cheese! It was love at first bite for me. I’ll agree with Happy Runner – goat gouda is delicious!

  • Marianne May 30, 2009 at 1:31 am

    That is one cute goat!

    I really enjoy goat cheese, but I think I’ve only ever had chevre, not any of the other kinds out there. I should see if they carry any other goat cheeses at my local grocery store.