Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cheese of the Week:Crystal Brook Farm Goat Chevre Log

For New Year’s celebration, my sister instituted a family tradition a couple of years ago. At 12:01 on the first day of the new year, you have to go out of your house with a small bag in hand and run around the nearest pole seven times. She attributes the extensive amount of travelling that she does to this tradition. My mom, Will and I have also started following it and seems like we are travelling more. Most recently we ran in Guadalajara, Mexico on our 2008 New Year’s Eve trip. Will and I have ran in Boston and in New York, convincing friends to follow us in what always is a very fun and accelerating activity for an otherwise un-climatic moment.

I love to travel, having grew up in a pre-NAFTA Mexico I find the diversity of the world full of possibilities. The one thing that I love the most about travelling is eating and finding new foods. Recently, the quest to find new local cheeses in the places I visit has open up a world never tasted before. In my recent trip to Europe, I had a layover in Reykjavik from America and found nice cheeses in the duty free area of the airport (see pictures below in the blog). I bought two bloomy rinded cheeses, one with extra blue mold making it a very cheese. The cheeses had a mixture of cow’s and goat’s milk and they claimed that the milk of these animals is unique because they eat grasses watered with glacier water. My friend Peyman, who kindly enough hosted me in London with his wife Alpha, loved the cheese and claimed that he was able to taste the tundra. Talk about an interesting terroir.

Finding local cheeses has pushed me to venture to walk on the highway interconnector in St. Louis, MO and to practice my rusty Italian with an Albanian bus driver in Milan. However, during this holiday break finding good local cheeses was easy - Will’s parents took us to the Cheese Shop in Concord, MA ( This little store has a great selection of world cheeses, with all the families covered. Still, the real treat was to find Massachusetts chesses.

Of four that I tried, I bought two: Crystal Brook Farm Goat Chevre Log from Sterling and Great Hill Blue from Buzzard’s Bay (Marion). I choose them because they were the most complex in flavor and I knew people would enjoy them. Will’s family likes creamy full-fat cheeses. My family likes sharp cheeses and Will and I enjoy the rounded flavors best.

Crystal Brook Farm makes this goat chevre with the milk of their own animals. The chevre is fresh, milky (lactic), and a little bit sour. Making it a great chevre to mix with food. They have a version with locally grown cranberries and another one with ginger. I did like both flavored ones, but decided to buy the plain one, as I didn’t want people to be unable to taste the freshness of the milk.

Great Hill Blue was really nicely covered with blue mold all over. I am guessing they use penicillium roqueforti because the veins were green and blue. The cheese is made with raw milk, and it was very lightly salted. It was also very fresh and the smell was full of mineral notes. The fact that this cheese is made and aged near the ocean is unique and it has a definite impact on its flavor. I really liked that it smelled like wet rock, which made me think of the rocky beaches of Massachusetts.

The goat chevre was a success and we finished almost all of it. The remaining piece may go into a quinoa/cranberry salad that we are copying from a friend who brought it for our Thanksgiving potluck.

If you want to find out more about Massachusetts cheeses, I found this link ( while browsing for information on the cheeses that I got. It belongs to the Massachusetts Agricultural Department and has a nice list by county of cheese producers in the state.

Apart from being a great cheese, I am making goat chevre the selection of this week because any good cheese plate should start with a fresh cheese. Since this is the first choice of the year it is perfect that it starts with a cheese that is fresh, from Massachusetts (where I took my first cheese class at the Boston Center for Adult Education from the buyer at Formaggio’s) and one discovered during a trip. Come midnight of December 31st, 2009, I will be out of the door running with my suitcase to wish that 2010 brings a lot of trips to find new cheeses and interesting politics research.

Feliz Año Nuevo.

(In the picture Crystal Brook Farm Goat Chevre log is in the upper left hand corner, Great Hill Blue is in the upper right hand corner, at the bottom there is Bound for Glory Cheddar from Greensboro, VT on the left and Queso de Vaca Urgelia from Catalan Pyrenees, Spain)

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