Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar
Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
The Mariposa Dairy in Lindsay, Ontario, makes a variety of goat and sheep milk cheeses. They make the Plain Goat that I have regularly, as well as Tania Sheep Cheese, which I will have at the stall later this month. All their cheeses are pasteurized and made using vegetarian-friendly rennet. I was in Toronto recently and acquired the Bandaged Goat Cheddar there, so it is a special treat—though I will do my best to find a regular supplier of it, as I am certain it will be a favourite of many.
The Bandaged Goat Cheddar is made in small batches to keep the quality high—that they succeed in doing so is shown in the large number of awards the cheese has won since it was first launched in 2011. (In 2011 it won Champion at the British Empire Cheese Festival, first in Goat Cheddar/tied for second as Best of Show at the American Cheese Society, and Grand Champion at the [Toronto] Royal Agricultural Winter Fair; it’s won First Place at various Canadian and international competitions in every year since except for 2012, which must have been a particularly intense year.)
After the cheese has been pressed into shape, the wheels are wrapped in cheesecloth and placed on a pine board in the aging room. They are turned each week for at least a year to ensure their even aging. This results in a nutty, earthy, and slightly crumbly cheese. (You might compare to Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar or Wookey Hold Cave-Aged Cheddar, which are made similarly.) Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar has lactic acid crystals in the paste—a much sought-after element in a well-aged cheddar.
Rocinante Rosemary Queso Iberico
Castille-Leon and La Mancha, Spain
Rocinante Rosemary Iberico is named for Don Quixote’s horse (Rocinante), which gives you an important clue as to the origin of this cheese—from the heartland of north-central Spain, La Mancha and Castille-Leon. Made from a mixture of cow’s, goat’s, and sheep’s milk, Queso Iberico is an ancient cheese very similar to Manchego, but because of the rosemary and the mixture of the three milks, is a distinct cheese with its own history and flavour. The flavours have a complex roundness due to the three milks, with the cheese’s natural herbal overtones much strengthened by the rosemary coating of the rind. The exact percentage of each type of milk varies with seasonal availability, but to be called ‘Queso Iberico’ must have a minimum of 50% cow’s milk, 30% sheep’s milk, and 10% goat’s milk—the other 10% is where the nuances come into play. It has a long after-flavour reminiscent of nuts and hay (and, of course, rosemary).
Try it with a young red, perhaps a Rioja, and the traditional accompaniment of quince paste (or, for an easier thing to find, fig jam).
Plain Goat Cheese
Oldfields Dairy, Oyster Bed Bridge, PEI
It’s hard to get any more local than the Oldfields Dairy set up, with the goats raised less than a hundred metres from the cheese house. Andrew Millar is the cheesemaker at Oldfields Dairy, the sister company to the Great Canadian Goat Soap Company. Originally from Truro, Andrew got into cheesemaking to give him time to spend with his family—and to make delicious food, of course. He started about two years ago with the soft spreadable goat’s cheese included in this month’s box, which is available in plain, chive, or sea salt and black pepper. Since then he has added feta, and just recently has been developing a farmhouse cheddar (available starting this week at the market!).
Excellent on toast or crumbled in salad, you might enjoy the plain cheese with fresh fruit or a tart-sweet chutney. Try with a minerally white wine.
Blyth Farm, Blyth, Ontario
Blyth Farm, home of the Van Dorps, is a small producer of goat’s milk cheeses from near Lake Huron (and the town of Blyth) in Ontario. The Van Dorps began making cheeses in 2008 and have continued to expand their repertoire since. They currently make a small number of gouda-style cheeses on their farm, of which Golden Blyth is one.
Golden Blyth is a mild, relatively young cheese, aged four to six months. It has a light texture, and a firm paste. It is a surprisingly sweet cheese with a hint of caramel mingling with a slight saltiness. Curiously, it is lactose-free—though that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in flavour!
The makers suggest pairing it with rustic bread and crisp white wine, and I can’t say any better than that.