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Best Cheeses 2022: Goat’s Milk

Photo by Nina Gallant | Styled by Kendra Smith

ST. GERMAIN (pictured above)
Blakesville Creamery
| Port Washington, Wisconsin

This semi-firm and mild, milky winner is made in a style similar to sheep’s milk, natural rind tommes from the Pyrenees. Only St. Germain hails from one of Wisconsin’s newest creameries. Founded in 2020, Blakesville Creamery makes all its cheeses from its herd of 900 goats, comprised largely of Saanens. St. Germain garnered both a first in the ACS Judging and Competition in goat cheeses aged over 60 days and a best in its class at the WCCC. A great snacking cheese, it has a sweet tang upfront followed by subtle herby notes.

Lively Run Dairy | Interlaken, New York

Like all cheeses made at Lively Run, one of the longest operating goat dairies in the country, Cayuga Blue is made in small batches by hand. Marbled throughout with blue mold as deep in color as the Finger Lake it is named after, this ACS first place winner in blues made from milk other than cow’s has texture closer to Roquefort than Stilton. Its classic blue tang is balanced by the earthy richness of goat’s milk, says cheesemonger Andrew Sylvester, of the Adams Cheese Shop in upstate New York, who admits it is one of his favorites.

Sylvester of Adams Cheese Shop suggests pairing this cheese with sweet, non-acidic dried fruits like dates, figs, and pears on a cheese board. Or on gingerbread for dessert. Sweeter wine and beer like Rieslings, English brown ales, or German doppelbocks are a good match, too.

Haystack Mountain Creamery | Longmont, Colorado

The 2022 winner in the ACS soft-ripened cheese category, Haystack Peak is a pyramid-shaped mound with a distinguishing ash rind. This cheese, made from milk the company works diligently to source locally, ripens from the outside in.  The white paste in the center is light, slightly lemony, and mildly goaty.  The gooier cream line is muskier like hay.

Pure Luck Farm and Dairy | Dripping Springs, Texas

Amelia Sweethardt, daughter of Sara Bolton, founding farmer and cheesemaker at this homestead operation located just west of Austin, continues to produce awarding winning cheeses like her late mother did. This cheese took first prize in the 2022 ACS goat feta category, a repeat performance from 2013 and 2010. Inspired by the family’s Greek heritage, this was the first cheese Amelia recalls learning to make and age, and it remains a firm favorite. The texture of the bright white cheese is crumbly while the taste is rich with a salty tang and clean finish.

Casie Wiginton, a Certified Cheese Professional with Antonelli’s Cheese Shop in Austin suggests crumbling the feta over a roasted Hasselback butternut squash seasoned with baking spices and a hint of chipotle.

Asgaard Farm and Dairy
| Au Sable Forks, New York

This raw goat’s milk gouda is almost as pretty as the scenic pictures mid-twentieth century American artist Rockwell Kent painted on the farm where the farmstead cheese is now made.  Aged in on-farm caves, it has a complex, subtly sharp flavor, with notes of toasted milk and an earthy broth.  The texture is pleasantly dry and granulated. Both taste and texture played into Gladsheim taking home first place honors in the American made, internationally styled open category in the 2022 ACS Judging and Competition.

Stepladder Ranch and Creamery | Cambria, California

On this dairy’s website, you can meet all 40 of the LaManchas whose milk went into this cheese, the first batch of which was developed and aged just in time for the 2022 ACS Judging and Competition. The goats, and cheesemaker Robin Profitt, took home the gold in the farmstead goat’s milk category. It’s made in the traditional English cheddar style where the curds are milled, salted, and bound in muslin before aging, which for this cheese was about six months. It has a milky aroma and a tart bite that’s smoothed out with herbaceous notes from the goat’s milk.

Vermont Creamery 
| Websterville, Vermont

This cheese, whose name means “good mouth(ful),” is the most widely distributed of the goat cheeses featured here. It earned a silver medal in the 2022 ICDA competition for a non-PDO ash-rinded cheese. Via the same process used since 2001, cheesemakers curdle pasteurized goat’s milk by a slow lactic set. The curds are ladled into molds, sprinkled with ash, and aged to develop its signature wrinkly rind. When mature, the rind is a delicate grey with patches of white mold, and the paste is soft and yielding with bright, clean flavors of citrus and hay.

This cheese pairs equally well with the ordinary (think Granny Smith apples or your favorite kettle-cooked potato chips) and the exotic (either the bottle of pomegranate molasses you bought at the Middle Eastern grocery or the sour beer from your local brewery)

Quesos y Besos
| Guarromán, Jaén, Spain    

Named the best cheese in the world at the 2021 WCA, this soft goat cheese has a signature dark stripe of olive pit ash running through its middle to prevent excess humidity and maintain a creamy texture. The cheese is made by a tiny, five-year-old family business in the Andalusian region of Spain. A 300-gram square of Quesos y Besos (which means Cheese and Kisses in English) Olavidia costs fifteen euros.  You can’t buy this cheese anywhere in the U.S. now, and, due to the makers’ style of keeping production low and slow—coupled with its loyalty to local clientele—you probably never will be able to find it here. But traveling to this part of Spain is always an option.

Van der Heiden Kaas | Bodegraven, The Netherlands

The entire line of Eminence Grise Tomme cheeses is made in the Dutch style on Dutch soil using Dutch milk. But all are aged for a minimum of 12 months in caves in France, where the rinds are cut away and coated in a thin layer of caramel. The Chèvre Grise au Bleu, which received accolades from both the WCA and the ICDA, has the sweetness of an aged goat’s milk tomme and the piquant zing of blue veins of Penicillium roqueforti. It’s a balance of delicate robustness.

Harvey and Brockless Ltd | London, England

United Kingdom-based fine foods purveyor Harvey and Brockless produces its popular Ashlynn soft-ripened goats’ cheese at its dairy in Worcestershire called The Cheese Cellar. In Trufflynn, which won a super gold medal in the WCA competition, cheesemakers swapped Ashlynn’s ashen center line for a thin strip of truffle paste. The lemony sharpness of the buttery cheese picks up an earthy, umami tone in this related, but unique, new cheese.

Friesland Campina | Bodegraven, The Netherlands

Arina is a semi-firm, silky-smooth Dutch goat gouda. Friesland Campina company makes an entire line of Arina cheeses that vary in terms of the herbs and spices added to the curds and the length of time the wheels are aged. The product that got the attention of the ICDA judges is aged 17 weeks, compared to Arina Young and Arina Old which are aged 6-8 weeks and more than 35 weeks, respectively. The medium maturation point of Arina Matured makes it a very versatile cheese.

Carr Valley Cheese
| La Valle, Wisconsin

A winner of national and international awards since 2006, this 4-month aged goat cheese has a creamy, ivory-colored paste shot through with Penicillium blue-green veins that give the final product a slightly crumbly texture. It’s fresh but assertive briny flavor is balanced by the goat’s milk savory nature, and the combination is reminiscent of a feta, only it has a blue twist on that theme.

Grupo Ganaderos de Fuerteventura | Fuerteventura, Spain

Pronounced CA-bra ahl GO-fee-oh, this approachable, semi-firm cheese is made from pasteurized Majorero goat’s milk using a traditional method of coating the rind in gofio, a toasted corn flour found in the Canary Islands. Available in the United States primary through the makers’ relationship with Queens, New York-based importer Forever Cheese, its flavor is milky and mild with subtle hints of corn and a sweetness in the finish.

Christine Burns Rudalevige

Christine Burns Rudalevige has been a working journalist for 30 years and has considered cheese her favorite food group for even longer. Ten years ago, when she attended culinary school, one of her goals was to write for culture.

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