Let's Talk Goat's Cheese
What good timing to find ourselves on the topic of Goat’s cheese. In, funnily enough, the season of the stuff!
It can be hard to connect with the idea of seasonality when we have everything we want, and more, at the tips of our fingers at all times.
Thankfully, cheese is (at least the good stuff) always either seasonally made, or seasonally impacted. This means each passing month, and each individual batch of cheese will display nuances and a story of time, place and provenance.
The French nail this way of eating produce at its best, and can claim the trophy for eating cheese seasonally.
Cheese is eaten when it is made most successfully - and this is when animals are producing their best milk. In spring / summer months when pastures are lushest, Goats milk is rich, fatty, and full of esters (fruity aromatic compounds - like those found in beer!) making fantastic cheese. In winter? Hard, aged cheeses keep them through these harsher months. Clever lot, aye!
As well as tasting better, the summer months sure do have you reaching for certain things naturally. Some things just taste better when the weather is balmy and the air is heady with barbecues and cut grass… a soft goats cheese is taken up to new levels here. In fact, these herbaceous and smokey scents of outside can be found in the cheese itself.
Take Black Mount from Lanarkshire, Scotland for example. Grassy, lemony and fudgey delight on the inside… with a peppery ash lining with hints of smoke and the sea. It’s summer itself, in one neat package.
But what to drink with our goats cheese, on this imaginary summer’s day? (Which will be a reality soon, we must remind ourselves…)
My go-to pairing for soft goats is undoubtedly sours. A freshness and acidity to stand up to the youngest goat, with all the complexity, fruit and funk you need. Chuck a Kriek at Dorstone, and you get cherry compote and creme fresh. There are fantastic things happening here!
Next in line, and it is worth mentioning Saisons. Often boasting a level of tartness, these beers are historically for the Seasonaire workers of French speaking Belgium - Wallonia. This style not only nods to seasonality of produce (any herbs, fruit or spices to hand would have been chucked in), but the resulting spicey, rustic, herbal nature is spot on for goats cheeses - as well as a spritzy carbonation to clean up any fat from the palate.
Next time we’ll be exploring mixed fermentation and foraged ingredients in beer… but for now we hope this has got you suitably hungry.