Cheese 138 Gouda Van Giet-Goat’s Pride

Last weekend I did something REALLY exciting: I went to visit a goat’s farm and fromagerie. I recognize that this may not be a top 5 on everyone’s bucket list, but that’s just sad-it really ought to be. Goat farms are fabulous, go and find one and visit it now, I command thee!

I’ve been kind of obsessing over Goat’s Pride “Blue Capri” cheese now for over a year, you can read my review of it here. But that review doesn’t really do it justice, and it certainly doesn’t explain the hankering I have for that cheese, like all the time. All I really want to do all day long, is eat Goat’s Pride Blue Capri. Alas, it’s darn hard to find, so I decided to go to the source- a small goat farm out in the City of Abbotsford, in the Lower Mainland of BC.

As we drove up the meandering driveway, I saw goat’s cavorting. Seriously! And these are tiny, wee goats, not the large goats I was expecting. They were knee high at best, and literally cavorting amongst fields of clover. It was ridiculously perfect. My heart filled with goat-loving joy, one could almost say, pride…Goat’s Pride.
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Goat’s Pride is a family run business. The son is the cheese maker, and mom seems to run the store. She graciously showed us around the farm stand and explained the lay of the land. Basically, organic goat’s milk is almost impossible to source. All of their goat’s milk comes from their own small herd of (ridiculously cute) goats, but that’s not cutting it. They may have to look at alternative sources and alternative cheeses as they expand their line of products.

For the time being, Goat’s Pride continues to make a limited run of cheese including today’s Gouda Van Giet, and yes, I did also buy three blocks of the Blue Capri for my own private joy.

According to their wrapper, Van Giet means “from the goat” in Dutch. As Gouda- and the Goat’s Pride family- are all Dutch, it seems only fitting. This cheese truly is “from the Dutch.”

Gouda Van Giet is a certified organic cheese, and the milk and cheese are processed directly on the farm. This Gouda is aged about a year-if memory serves me correctly. Unfortunately, their website is currently down, so I can’t double check, but let’s go with that. I’m assuming they pasteurize their milk, as it doesn’t say “raw” anywhere, but it’s made on the farm from happy goats, so for me, that’s about as good as it gets.

Gouda Van Giet is white-very white-goat’s milk is whiter than cow’s because it lacks beta carotene. That’s that carrot colour that makes cow’s cheese kind of yellow. For some mysterious reason, goats convert beta carotene into Vitamin A, colourless. See, goats are magic!

I digress, my vitamin A rich Gouda is a stark white, it’s firm without discernible texture in the smooth paste. It has no rind. The smell is faint and slightly goaty. It beckons me. Yes, it’s not Blue Capri, but a very close cousin, “try me,” it says.

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Here goes…

So complex! It’s like one of those gobstoppers that changes flavour as you go down a level. Initially, salty and goaty, but then, a caramel undertone emerges. It’s rich and salty. It’s also salty, did I mention that? The texture is not as smooth as I expected, the paste holds up to chewing, keeping its integrity. It’s pretty mellow for a goat’s cheese, nothing scary here. It’s chilled out and toothsome.

OK, I like this cheese, but I’m not completely obessed with it, as I am with their Blue Capri. But that’s ok, not everyone appreciates mouldy goat’s cheese, I get that. This is a beautiful, organic, family and farmstead made goat’s Gouda. Try it, it just might be your slice of cheese.

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Cheese 123-Louis d’Or Vieille

 

It’s getting harder these days to really excite me about a new cheese. I’m perhaps a little jaded, 123 cheeses into this strange little foray of mine…but yesterday-my heart stopped.  While at my local cheese shop looking for something “sexy, Canadian, and hard” (yes, those were my criteria, don’t laugh) my eyes fell upon something I had somehow missed before.  It was a large handsome cheese: hard, firm, Canadian…organic, unpasteurized, and a gold medal winner…breathing harder, yes…this is the cheese I have been looking for, and it was right under my nose.

You see, it turns out that I really am mad for Canadian cheese-all things being equal-which they aren’t, of course.  To find a great cheese made in my homeland just seems right.  There’s supporting your fellow Canadians, then’s there’s the carbon footprint, et cetera, but really, why not eat Canadian cheese?  Especially when Canadians are so damn good at making damn good cheese, especially the French-why?  Why is it always Quebec?  This is a great mystery to me.

I digress.  Today’s handsome (and hard and Canadian, I did mention that, right) cheese is a Comte look alike (and I love me some Comte) made by the Quebecois Fromagerie du Presbytere.  It’s a cow’s milk cheese made with organic milk right on the farm.   It’s rare to find such a large Mountain Style cheese made here in Canada as it takes quite a commitment to make and then store a cheese of this size. I reviewed another cheese by this groovy fromagerie back in my early cheese days-Laliberte which was an unctuous and yummy triple cream brie, but today’s cheese is their eponymous headliner-and I tend to think that when something is eponymous, it’s really special!

I’m kind of stealing this next bit from my old review, but it just bears repeating, and it’s not theft if it’s from yourself. “The farm of Louis d’or, is a family run company operated by four generations of the Morin family.  Even better, it’s  artisanal, family owned, and organic.  This family turned to organic farming in the 1980′s, which makes them early adopters.   The farm has a herd of Holstein and Jersey cows which graze in the organic pastures of clover, timothy grass, bluegrass and other organic grains. These cows are never given antibiotics or hormones. In 2005 this Morin family decided to remodel an old church rectory called Sainte-Élizabeth de Warwick. It was located just in front of their farm.  All their cheese is now made in this refurbished building and the family only makes artisanal organic certified cheese. Wow, this is sounding like an ad for this fromagerie.  But come on, a refurbished cheese rectory.”

This beautiful cheese is remarkable for its size- it’s made in 40 KG wheels, and has a washed rind and a firm pressed cooked paste.  It is made from raw milk, so pregnant ladies we warned! Typically this cheese is served at the 9 month age-and this is the one that won all the prizes, but my little sample is the Vieille or aged and is 18 months old.  Yes, be jealous of me, that’s perfectly understandable. Louis D’Or (at the 9 month age) is a big winner taking the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Grand Champion as well as best in class in firm cheese, farmhouse cheese, organic cheese too, and the American Cheese Society best of show third place, along with numerous other awards.   Are you impressed yet?  How can we ask for more?  It’s an award winning  family made cheese based on happy organic cows and a refurbished rectory.  I’m sold.

 


My long slice of Louis d’or Vieille which from the sounds of it I was lucky to find-due to the popularity of this cheese, is an attractive creamy yellow with a dark brown natural rind.  I see other reviews referencing eyes in this cheese, but my sample does not contain them…mine is also the 18 month version, so I am unclear if this is the cause.  It appears as though there is some crystallization or tyrosine throughout the paste-which makes me crazy with desire…I love me some tyrosine!  It smells wonderful, nutty and deep and really for all the world like a Comte.  It’s a mellow and mature cheese, it’s begging me to enter into a conversation with it…and I shall.

Here goes…

There’s so much going on here, I don’t even know where to start. First, it’s floral, and sweet, I’m so shocked!  It’s very mellow and round, but ultimately very, very sweet and benign more like a great Gruyere than anything else.  There are no sharp or uric notes whatsoever, it’s just totally mellowed out, it’s like a Zen master of cheese. Sweet, round, mellow, pleased with itself and the balance it has achieved in this world.  The texture is fabulous, it’s firm to the teeth, but enjoys a little chew before dissolving into a sweet milky paste-there’s a faint fleck or tyrosine, but that’s not the show stopper here-the show stopper is the taste, it’s really unlike anything I have ever tasted before, it’s clover, sunshine, friendship and happiness. It’s a revelation in cheese.  Unlike many cheeses this one should be eaten by itself, with nothing else-it’s cheese in the purest form: complex, developed, wise, sumptuous.  If you can get your hands on this cheese, do it, you can thank me later.

Holy Hannah Louis D’Or, you are most definitely my slice of cheese, bravo!

 

Day 80-Blossom’s Blue


 Saltspring Island, or  SSI-as it’s known to locals-is one of the Gulf Islands found between Vancouver Island and Vancouver.  It’s the most populated Gulf Island and arguably the most groovy of the uber-groovy Gulfs. SSI was a hotbed of hippies back in the 70’s.  Every second cabin or teepee housed a candle-maker, potter or creator of organic delicacies.  These days SSI is sadly a little more highbrow and in many ways a victim of its own coolness.  Everyone wants to be on Saltspring.  Slowly the hippies and freaks are being pushed out by gentrification, development and the ensuing high price of living.  This is sad, but inevitable.

Despite the move towards yuppiedom on SSI, pockets of awesomeness still exist.  You can still find and purchase almost anything fabulous your heart could dream of-which is also hand-made by someone cool right on SSI-even the cheese!  One of SSI’s most successful and well-known exports is today’s cheese, Blossom’s Blue made by the local Moonstruck cheese company,  http://www.moonstruckcheese.com/.  Moonstruck has been around since 1998 and initially made its debut at the summer market in the town of Ganges on SSI.  Incidentally, I heartily recommend a trip to the summer weekend market in Ganges, its one of those things that just has to be experienced for oneself. It’s like a strangely upscale outdoors hippie haven.  If you can imagine it-it will be there for sale, I kid you not.

Moonstruck has struck the big time now.  Although still available at the market and on the island their cheese is  available outside of SSI at your finer cheese shops in BC and across Canada.  Moonstruck produces a range of cheeses including several blues, a camembert a Tomme d’or and a farmstead feta.  Moonstruck is  a certified organic cheese company-which is a special and rare thing in and of itself.  The company makes limited runs of cheese from the milk of its own on-island small herd of Jersey cows, totally about 25 cows.  The cows are happy and healthy Saltspring Island free-spirits who range at will grazing in the organic fields.  Blossom’s Blue is actually named after their first head cow-Blossom.  Awwwww.  Come on, how cute is that?

Blossom’s Blue is a blue cheese made from cow’s milk,  raw and organic.  It’s aged longer than their other blue, Beddis, which is more of a starter blue. Blossom’s Blue is made in fairly small quantities and uses the bacterium penicillium roqueforti to develop its funky mould.  This is the same bacterium responsible for Roquefort and Stilton cheese.  In fact, this Blossom’s Blue sounds an awful lot like Stilton-a sweet Jersey milk cow cheese made using penecillium Roqueforti.  I’m absolutely mad for stilton, so I’m getting a little excited here. This could be the perfect storm of Gulf Island, Jersey cow and bacteria to put me right over the edge.  Sadly I haven’t been able to find any intel on the actual production of this cheese-they seem pretty close mouthed over at Moonstruck.  However, as it really appears to be a local Stilton I am guessing it’s aged for about 9 weeks.  You can see where the cheese has been pierced to introduce the bacterium, and that’s usually done about one week into production.

My little slice of Blossom’s Blue (thanks Blossom!) has been waiting for me, patiently.  It really does look like Stilton.  It’ s quite a yellow cheese, that’s the high fat from the Jersey cows.  The interior paste is shot through with the green and blue mould, but it’s mostly contained to the middle of the cheese-more like a stilton, less like a gorgonzola or roquefort. There is a thin brown and soft natural rind.The cheese smells deliciously raunchy to my nose.  My nose hairs stood right up to attention when I sniffed it, this is an odorous little cheese!

Here goes…

Mmmmm. It’s smooth and raunchy and quite salty-a little overly salty to me. Maybe it’s putting the salt into saltspring.  It’s not as sweet as Stilton, there’s really no sweet note at all-just a creamy salty blue.  Blossom’s blue has a spicy little bite to it, it’s making my mouth tingle.  The texture is a delight, very smooth and just a little carnal, I like that!  It is a yummy cheese, but not quite as fabulous as I was hoping, alas. My tongue is searching for sweet and is somewhat repelled by salt.

Blossom’s blue is an organic and local blue made from happy cows on a gulf Island.  Who cares if its a little overly salty, pair it with something sweet and it will do just fine.