I wanted to provide the perfect – or at least memorable – ending to the Easter dinner I was invited to share with friends – herbed-crusted leg of lamb, red bliss potaoes roasted with the lamb and green beans with Roquefort and walnuts. Thus, I went to Central Bottle and Provisions to consult with my go-to cheesemonger David Seaton. As David led me through a tasting of the cheeses he was excited about at the moment, I was impressed with how the goat cheeses were showing. I stated that perhaps I’d do all-goat. David cautioned that it might be dangerous to be mono-thematic, but, putting caution aside, I chose three to compose my all-goat Easter cheese plate –
Robiola Incavolata – I wanted a small format fresh cheese and choose this robiola
from Piedmont, Italy. The cheese has much visual appeal – wrapped in a leaf of Savoy cabbage bound with raffia. Pretty! The cheese, made from pasteurized milk, is aged for twenty days. The leaf, besides its aesthetic appeal, provides a nice moist microclimate in which the cheese matures. Whether or not the leaf adds flavor is debated. The paste is white – there’s no rind – earth aromas, creamy, a touch of sourness.
- Lake’s Edge – Created by the artist-cheesemakers at Blue Ledge Farm in Vermont – Hannah Sessions and Greg Bernhardt – the cheese has eye appeal – a thin line of ash bisects the cheese. Centuries ago, ash was sprinkled on cheese to protect the surface if a batch from another milking was to be later added to the form, thereby creating a larger cheese. In this instance, the ash is decorative. The cheese ripens from the outside, being almost liquid next to the rind. The paste is white, the texture crumbly, somewhat chalky with a bright lemony taste. This was the most popular cheese on the plate – in the end, scraped down to the wrinkly rind.
Turning again to Europe, the Torta Don Mariano from Andalusia, Spain. This artisanal Farmhouse cheese is made with raw milk and aged 60 days. A washed rind cheese, it was the “stinker” – an affectionate term for the pungency of this class of cheese – of the evening. And pungent it was. The rind rust-colored, the paste ivory, the flavor piquant and spicy. Not for the faint of taste.
And so we welcomed spring with three goats.