Coach Farm has created a new, raw goat’s milk cheese, and now they’ve partnered with Culture Magazine to find a name for it! As part of the “Hello My Name Is” competition, they have sent a big box of samples of this new cheese to 6 cheese bloggers — including yours truly — to taste and review the new cheese, post photographs, and even feature a giveaway of Coach Farm goodies. See the previous post for the full details or my tasting notes post for the new cheese.
Check out the video above to see Culture’s Kate Arding discuss the cheese with Coach’s head cheesemaker, Mark Newbold.
Named for the wild pennyroyal mint flowers that carpet the meadows of their farm, Pennyroyal Farmstead is a fairly new cheesemaking operation, locating in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino, California, about 2.5 hours north of San Francisco, on the sixty acres of Navarro Winery. Sustainability is a high priority for the farm, with electricity supplied by solar panels, waste reclaimed for agricultural applications and an army of miniature sheep keeping the lawns mowed. The goats, in their daily foraging, wend their way through the vines and help keep the weeds at bay.
They’ve been a sheep farm for over 25 years, but the goats only arrived five years ago, and the cheesemaking began in earnest after that, with the first cheeses making it to market only in the spring of 2012. The cheesemaking is still small-scale, with the daily makes happening in a 50-gallon vat, working primarily with goat’s milk but also doing mixed-milk sheep and goat’s milk cheeses as seasonality permits.
I first heard about their cheeses when Kirstin Jackson raved about their Boont Corners cheese on her It’s Not You, It’s Brie blog. I contacted them to inquire about availability on the East Coast; the bad news was that they are not currently available on this side of the country, but the good news (for me) was that they were happy to send me a sample box to try their cheeses! California readers should keep an eye out for them (and see the end of this post for details about their Farm To Table mail order program).
The first cheese I tried was Laychee, a fresh cheese that is made with goat and sheep while the sheep are still milking, but goes to pure goat later on. This is a mild, bright, milky cheese, in the vein of a queso fresco or fromage blanc, with a creamy, lightly grainy texture and a wonderful cottage-cheesey flavor to it. This would make a great breakfast cheese, with fresh fruit or in a crepe, or as a bruschetta topper with honey.
The next cheese was the Bollie’s Mollies, a lactic bloomy rind goat’s milk cheese. The rind is the dusty blue-gray color of a Selles-Sur-Cher, but the cheese itself is firmer, a soft but not runny creamline surrounding a firm, fudgy center. This is a mild, salty cheese with a smooth mouthfeel, a little bit musty in aroma, with subtle goaty and grassy notes.
After that was the Boont Corners, which came in three varieties: Two-Month Tomme, Vintage Tomme (aged four to six months) and the Reserve Tomme, which is aged over six months, and in this case was a mixed-milk raw sheep and goat’s milk cheese (although I’m not sure if it’s always mixed milk). All three were aged in a thin paper layer that covers the rind to protect the interior and control moisture loss.
The Two-month had a stony, textured tan rind, and an ivory, moist paste, moderately eyed. The flavor was mild, milky and salty, a little bit tangy, with gamey and herbaceous notes.
The Vintage tomme, although in theory just an older Boont, had a different rind from the Two-month, smoother, with less irregularity and texture. The paste as well was smoother, with fewer eyes and a creamy, denser, dryer texture. The flavory was more developed and multilayered, a bit saltier, the tanginess of the two-month aged out, with wonderful subtle smokey and meaty notes and a mellow finish.
The Reserve Tomme, with the addition of Sheep’s milk, resembled a good pecorino, with a rind similar to the Two-month Boont but a paste that was golden colored, moderately eyed, and with a harder, dryer, crumbly texture, with trademark hints of buttery oil from the sheep’s milk. The flavor was salty, rich and nutty, with caramel, lanolin and grassy notes.
All of the cheeses I tried from Boont were great, with the Vintage Tomme being the real standout. Unfortunately, as noted, they’re not available on the East Coast, but Pennyroyal has a “Farm To Table” mail order program that you can subscribe to, which entitles you to a shipment of three seasonal cheeses, five times a year. Learn more at www.pennyroyalfarm.com/table/.
How would you like to name this cheese? How about winning a sample of it from Cheese Notes, along with other cheeses from Coach Farm and an insulated cheese bag? Check out the details here!
How would you like to name a cheese? Not just any cheese, but a new, raw, goat’s milk cheese from one of America’s top goat cheese producers? Well now, you have the chance, thanks to the Culture Magazine “Hello My name Is” contest! Check out my review of the cheese in the next post.
The black and red logo of Coach Farm probably looks familiar to you; since Miles and Lillian Cahn started Coach in 1985, they have grown the farm into one of the signature goat cheese brands on the market. The Cahn’s are actually the original family behind the Coach handbag brand and that’s where they first made their fortune, before deciding to “retire” upstate a couple hours north of Manhattan, near Pine Plains, NY, with big plans of a relaxing life restoring an abandoned farm to working order and starting a goat creamery to create French-style cheeses for the New York City market.
Needless to say, the “relaxing” part of the plan never quite happened; they soon realized just how much time, work and dedication it would take to get the farm up and running and the cheese moving. Rather than give up, they sold Coach Leatherware (ironically, to the Sara Lee Corporation, so a large food company was expanding into leather goods even as they were moving into food production) and moved to the farm full time.
The story has a happy ending, as evidenced by the ubiquity of Coach in cheese cases (mostly on the East Coast but expanding healthily) and their frequent successes at the American Cheese Society competitions. Despite the challenges, they have now expanded to a 1000+ herd and are producing a variety of fresh, aged and flavored pasteurized goat’s milk cheeses. If you want to learn more about their journey from high-fashion bags to wheels of cheese, check out Miles’ book “The Perils and Pleasures of Domesticating Goat Cheese” for a behind-the-scenes, and often hilarious, look at the realities of goat farming and cheesemaking.
All of which brings us to the present day! Coach Farm is now working on their first aged cheese made with RAW goat’s milk cheese. After a lot of R&D and trial and error this beautiful cake of a wheel is finally getting close to being market-ready. But now they need a name!
That’s where YOU come in. Coach Farm, in collaboration with Culture Magazine, has selected 6 bloggers — including yours truly — to taste and review the “Raw Goat Cheese”. Readers can then go to the Culture “Hello My name Is” website and submit their own ideas for a new name. Given Coach’s success, it’s likely that the winning selection will be seen in cheese cases for years to come and may garner ribbons at domestic and international competitions, so think hard!
And there’s more: submit your favorite goat cheese pairing in the comments section, and Cheese Notes will select the best pairing and award the winner a Coach Farm insulated cheese bag (perfect for that summer picnic), containing samples of Coach Farm cheeses, including a wedge of the new cheese!
The Cheese Notes review for this cheese will be featured in the next post; submissions to either this post or that one will be considered in the competition, but duplicate submissions will only be counted once.
(Anonymous comments will not be eligible. Winner will be announced on the site and in the comments section, and I will contact you directly if possible.)
Slicing open more of the Bloomy Rind Couronne experiments. This batch was made with raw cow’s milk but without the addition of any fat, so as expected the paste is less creamy-rich than the double-creme Couronne (which I sliced into a week ago). The salt levels on this wheel are definitely low, and there is a slight bitterness, but also some nice mushroomy notes and a hint of barnyard. The texture of the paste is good, smooth and buttery, but the rind is a little thick. This wheel was also a bit over the hill, with the rind starting to sag and dry in a couple spots, but the interior was in good shape. For flavor I definitely prefer the double-creme (and not just because of the “more fat makes everything taste better” principle), but it’s not bad.
Another fix for next time: the stainless steel dowel I used for the hole in the center of the couronne was a little too small in diameter, so when the rest of the rind had stopped sprouting aggressively it was still growing thickly in the hole, where humidity was probably higher. As a result the wheel had a fuzzy little pocket right at its center, which didn’t damage the flavor but was perhaps not aesthetically ideal.
Slicing open the Bloomy Rind, double-creme couronne experiment. Salt levels need tweaking, there’s a bit of a brassica, maybe cabbagey flavor and aroma. I’m happy with the texture of the paste though and the rind, while perhaps not as thin as I’d like is decent. Needs work but a good first step. This is the first time I’ve experimented with raising the fat levels in a cheese, in this case to the 60-65% range, roughly (I’m estimating as I don’t have the means to test fat content). If you’re wondering, triple-creme is 75% or more (Formaggio Kitchen has a great post explaining the definitions of double- and triple creme). I don’t currently have a source for raw heavy cream, so the cream that was added was pasteurized.
This month we’re celebrating wrinkles with a pairing photo contest and giveaway of Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery’s Bonne Bouche. This wrinkled goat cheese is made in the style of an aged Loire Valley goat cheese. We’ll give you three pairings of aged French goat cheeses and a food or drink and we want to to update the pairing using Bonne Bouche and whatever makes you happiest. For example, is your favorite Bonne Bouche sidekick fig jam? Do you get a little crazy and pair it with dark chocolate? What about beer or wine or even a gourmet soda? Whatever it is, we want to know.
HOW TO ENTER
- Email a JPG photo and description of your pairing to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Use the subject line OLD IS NEW
- Be specific: Don’t just say, “a dark beer” instead, tell us which specific beer you’re pairing it with
- Include your name and any social media you have (so we can give you a shoutout!)
PICK A WINNER
- Go to ourTumblr, Pinterest, or Facebook page
- Look for photos tagged #OldIsNew
- Comment, repint, or like a photo to vote for it
We’ll count your favorites and reward the top 4 with some delicious Bonne Bouche and a Wrinkles are Sexy button. Want more? Guess what, we have a grand prize too. One lucky winner will receive:
- One of each Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery’s aged cheeses
- A cooler bag with the VT Butter & Cheese logo for toting your favorite cheeses to a picnic or the office
- A beautiful cheese board
- A Winkles are Sexy button
- A cookbook
Need some inspiration to get started? We’ll give you the old, you give us the new! Here’s a video with the makers of Bonne Bouche:
More exciting news from the Cheese Championship, via sproutcreekfarm:
So excited that our newest cheese, Margie, won best in class at the US Championship Cheese Contest! Wooo!
Congrats to Colin and the Sprout Creek team! I just recently tried Margie for the first time, a well-earned victory.
3Geometric Progression of Bloomy Rinds in Cheesemaking.
Actually, there’s no logic to it. I was making a fresh batch of Couronnes in a few different sizes (and one regular mini-wheel) and happened to create this cascade of forms and sizes on the drying rack. Almost looks like a frame from a claymation movie or something. :)
Last Monday I had the opportunity to make cheese with Colin McGrath, head cheesemaker at Sprout Creek Farm, as well as touring the farm and tasting their latest line of cheeses with Audrey Aponte, Director of Sales and assistant cheesemaker. Sprout Creek is a multi-faceted operation, not just a farm and creamery but also a non-profit educational foundation, with the mission of using the farm as a teaching vehicle for children, allowing them to learn life and agricultural skills while working on a real farm. Sprout Creek Farm was originally founded by Sister Margot Morris and the Society of the Sacred Heart, but is now an independent non-profit.
Colin, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who hails from California originally, has been at Sprout Creek for around 7 years now and has had the opportunity to grow into his cheesemaking life alongside the farm, which has evolved over the last decade from cheesemaking being one of many artisanal foods produced to being the focus of the production side of the operation. The cheeses have evolved and changed considerably over that time as well, and they scored 2nd Place ribbons for both the Toussaint and the Madeleine at the 2012 American Cheese Society competition in Raleigh, NC — a confirmation of the passion and hard work that Colin and the rest of the Sprout Creek team have poured into the vats (literally and figuratively) over that time.
The make that I took part in was for the Madeleine, a raw goat’s milk, pecorino-inspired cheese. The goats had recently kidded (resulting in some cute-overload encounters with baby goats, but more on that in a follow-up post), so the goat’ milk was just recently flowing again. Colin told me that the early milkings after kidding are usually not suitable for aged cheeses, and get turned into fresh cheeses instead, but this milk was the first with which he felt comfortable making the Madeleine. Colin and Audrey are continuously monitoring and testing the milk and collaborating with the farmers to ensure both the safety and the quality of their working materials. As Colin said in a 2012 Edible Communities profile (and reiterated as we were standing over the vat), “[in cheesemaking] we are taking milk and emphasizing all of the natural characteristics in it by 100 percent. Whether it is good or bad, it is going to show through.” Put another way, you can’t make good cheese from sub-par milk, so the milk must be at its best going into the vat, and they are vigilant to ensure that is the case.
I also took part in the make for an “experimental cheese”, in the bloomy rind family, but Colin asked me not to divulge any other details as it’s still very much in the R&D stage.
Indeed, experimentation is a big part of his process, as he continually seeks to both refine the existing cheeses and develop new ones. Sometimes this is a methodical process of tweaking and adjusting an existing recipe to improve it, while at other times he might try out completely new recipes and techniques just to see where they lead.
When I was done in the creamery, Audrey and I had a tasting of the current line of cheeses, followed by a tour of the farm. A great new cheese is the Margie, a soft-ripened bloomy rind, with a fabulous silky texture and buttery flavor with notes of mushroom and hay. Colin and Audrey were quick to insist that the Margie is still being finessed, but I was already impressed with it and expect to see it popping up in counters everywhere shortly. I also tried the aforementioned Madeleine, the Toussaint, a raw cow’s milk alpine tomme with a wonderful nuttiness and peppery bite, the Batch 35, a smear-ripened washed rind with a mild pungency and a buttery flavor with meaty notes, and the Point of Origin, a washed-rind collaboration with Whole Foods and Sixpoint Brewery that I really like (see my previous review for more on this cheese).
They’ve been working to refine the line, and some cheeses, like the Camus blue cheese, have been retired, due to inconsistent results and the headaches of keeping the blues quarantined from the other cheeses.
If you’re ever in the Hudson Valley, it’s well worth your time to swing by Sprout Creek. Check out the farm store to sample and purchase all their products as well as other artisanal and local products, and view the cheese making in progress. Afterwards, you can visit the animals and see the baby cows and goats — not to mention Ferdinand, the new miniature donkey on the farm (speaking of which, for more on the farm tour, check out my following post; that’s where you’ll find the baby goat pictures!).