To a curd lover, nothing signifies spring like the sight of fresh goat cheeses appearing at the cheese counter. And while fresh, unadorned chevre definitely has it place (I like it on my morning toast), we like something a little more visually interesting on our spring cheeseboards. Like these brainy, wrinkly beauties from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery. The gang at VBC goes so far as to call them “sexy wrinkled cheeses,” and I can’t say I disagree.
Bijou, Coupole and Bonne Bouche (left to right, above) each begin from the same pasteurized goats milk. The petit Bijou is the youngest of the trio and remains pretty firm. It’s great for slicing and serving atop spring greens. The domed Coupole retains a fresh, chalky center, but starts to get that wilting, creamy line under the rind as it ages. When ready to eat — at room temperature, of course — the rind will actually slip and smudge when you handle it, so place it on your cheeseboard with care. Coupole has the brightest flavor of the trio and would go nicely with your spring rosé or Belgian ale. (I enjoyed it with Brewery Ommegang Duvel Rustica. And I must confess, I chose that beer at least partially due to the goat on its label.) Bonne Bouche — which Jill once called the cheese equivalent of Lay’s potato chips — is dusted with ash before aging and gets a little more yeast flavor, a little more luscious ooze, and is better matched with a sparkling crémant from the Loire Valley. (These cheeses are inspired by goat cheeses of that region of France, so its wines are a natural pairing.)
But what gives the rinds those distinctive wrinkles? Geotricum yeast. In the right conditions, the yeast grows on the surface of the cheese to give it that brainy appearance. These cheeses are common in France, but it was a many years long labor of love by Allison Hooper — and later aided by French-intern-turned-cheesemaker Adeline Druarte — to replicate the cheeses in Vermont.
GIVEAWAY:Vermont Creamery is so excited about their wrinkly geo cheeses that they’ve offered a trio to one of our readers — along with a copy of In A Cheesemaker’s Kitchen, a lovely cheese-infused cookbook from founder Allison Hooper. To enter, just leave a comment below letting us know how you enjoy your spring goat cheese. For additional entries, like us on Facebook &/or subscribe to our forthcoming newsletter, and let us know you’ve done so below. Enter by 11:59pm EDT on Tuesday, April 2, 2013. (You must have a US mailing address to win.)
Disclosure: Jill and I each received a set of cheese from Vermont Creamery for review purposes, and they are providing the giveaway package for delivery to one reader. No other compensation was received and as always, as opinions are our own.