Cheese 103-Okanagan Goat Cheese

Hello everyone, did you have a good week eating cheese?  I must admit, after the 100 day cheese sprint it’s quite a relief to be only blogging once a week.  It makes tracking down that one special cheese all the more important. I am looking for suggestions, so please add a comment if there’s a cheese you haven’t seen here yet that you would like to see profiled!  I am trying to focus on Canadian cheeses at this time-but I am open-minded, just saying.

Imagine my delight to find yet another local BC cheese producer that I had not yet sampled-in my own local Buy Low.  Really, it never fails to surprise me what cheese is making it into my local market.  Today’s cheese is Okanagan Goat cheese.  It’s a soft unripened chevre by Happy Days Goat Dairy. Needless to say, this is a goat’s milk cheese.  This one is factory made and made from pasteurized milk.

Happy Days Goat Dairy was founded in 1993 by Donat Koller, an artisan cheese maker originally from Switzerland who came to Canada to start a cheese making business. Thank you Donat Koller!  Happy Days started as a family farm and cheese making operation in Salmon Arm, which supplied local customers and stores in the Okanagan with milk and cheese.  Over time the business grew and at this point it is the largest provider of goat milk products in Western Canada.  Bravo, Happy Days!  They are now spread out over Western Canada and have 3 processing plants and 14 local goat milk farmers in Alberta and British Columbia. According to their website, all goats have a year-round diet of hay and grains, and all of their products are guaranteed free of antibiotics and growth hormones.

Happy Days is huge.  Besides cheese they supply retail stores and the food service industry with a variety of goat milk, goat milk cheeses, goat milk yoghurt, and goat milk ice cream, which probably explains why they are in my local market.  I also have to say that despite my new-found love for goat cheese, I don’t know if goat’s milk ice cream is really one of those products I can ever get behind, but to each their own. Their Chilliwack location is on the Chilliwack circle farm tour.  You can check out their processing plant and purchase cheese at their store on site called “Heavenly Cheese,” which I missed the last time I was out that way due to torrential rains.  Darn it.

The cheese I am trying today is also available in Garlic and Parsley, Lemon Pepper, Olive Oil and Rosemary varieties.  This cheese was a winner in 2009 taking two first prizes at the PNE and the Royal Toronto cheese competitions, and 5th place at the Cheese World Championship in 2008.  As you know-I hope-I am a cheese purist, and thus am sampling the unflavoured variety at this time, but it’s nice to know there are options out there.

Interestingly, Okanagan Goat Cheese is the first cheese reviewed here in my blog that is the traditional chevre, soft unripened goat’s milk cheese in a log form.  Before this blog, I thought that this was what all goat cheese-apart from feta looked like. But I was wrong, oh was I wrong!  Okanagan goat cheese is a fat little log wrapped in plastic. When released from its casing this is a very soft and creamy cheese.  It’s pure white-that’s the goat-goats don’t pass on the colour of carotene like cows do. The cheese smells very mildly of goat, it’s pretty chilled out.

Here goes…

Yummy!  It’s lemony, that’s my first hit, then goaty.  It’s a strange combination of the two, but in a good way. It’s quite tart.  Really, this is a cream cheese more than anything, it’s that fresh lemony taste of a very young cheese.  It’s quite mild, with a nice balance of salt.  This one could go either way and would pair nicely with a savoury or sweet. The texture is just mad good.  It’s perfectly creamy and unctuous, but not overly cloying.

Mmm, I like it!  If you are looking for a nice local chevre, look no further than Happy Days Okanagan Goat cheese, it’s my slice of cheese.