A wonderful way to celebrate American Cheese Month
by Ari Weinzweig
In 1982, when we opened the Deli, it was nearly impossible to get goat cheese. Today it’s everywhere. But honestly, the plastic sealed stuff that’s now in every supermarket is a far cry from the high quality, hand made offerings one can get from artisan producers. The more commonly found industrially processed “fresh” goat cheeses are generally anything but fresh—most are many, many months old before you buy them. They’ve been extruded (pushed through a press) to feed into the plastic “casings” in which they’re sold. In the process the texture gets pasty, the flavor becomes bitter; suboptimal/old milk usually means that they taste very “goaty.”
Why the Creamery’s City Goat is so good.
The City Goat are the opposite—the epitome of what artisan goat cheese is all about. Delicious and delicate with a really fine, clean finish. I could eat a whole one in a single sitting. If you’re going for a quick lunch outdoors, pick up a fresh City Goat, buy a Bakehouse baguette, an apple, and have at it. They would be just as appropriate and enjoyable on a park bench in Paris as they are sitting on a blanket here in the woods of Washtenaw County. These lovely little soft white discs are definitely old school. We start with fresh goat milk from one local farm. Add rennet and starter culture. Let the curd “set,” then cut the curd to start the separation of (solid) curd from (liquid) whey. The curd is then gently hand-ladled into the forms. The process is just what it sounds like—one ladle at a time is scooped into the perforated cheese molds. When the whey has drained out and the curd settles, another ladle of curd is added on top. And then again and one more time until the discs are the right size. The super fresh rounds are then put into a light salt brine for 24 hours. The salt—in all of these cheeses—is the only “preservative.”
Savor the flavor of our City Goat.
The beauty of this old process is that it yields a cheese that’s very much true to what the best of fresh goat cheeses were about many decades ago. Delicate, flaky, delicious. Handled carefully like this, the curd is protected throughout the process. The flavor is lusciously light. Take a small bite, savor it, and appreciate the moment. There are many challenges ahead for all of us, but for a minute or two we can just appreciate the loveliness and elegant simplicity of these little cheeses and the hard work of the Creamery crew, the farmers, and the goats that made them possible!