I have been relatively obsessed with goat cheese since I was a little girl. I spent my first five years in Marnes la Coquette, a village about 8 miles west of Paris. My mom, a chef trained at Paris’ now-defunct La Varenne cooking school, always fed us very well. I remember chowing down on powdered sugar-dusted gaufres at the Parc Monceau and one of my favorite things in the world was crotin — a small bloomy rind goat cheese, which my mom would broil on toast and serve with a light salad. Yeah, I was spoiled.
I always saw cheese as a magical food product, created by happy geniuses. It never really occurred to me that I could be such a happy genius, until I bought a Fresh French Goat Cheese Kit from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. Though basic, the kit included 4 cheese molds, which are usually pretty expensive and I continue to use today.
Though reading books and researching is helpful, nothing is better for learning than a hands-on class. I got my chance for such an education at the Los Angeles-based Institute of Domestic Technology, where I took a 3-day Milkcrafting course that seriously made my life. The course took place at the Mariposa Creamery, on the grounds of the Zane Grey Estate in Altadena, the home of teachers Steve Rudicel and Gloria Putnam. A group of broads of all ages gathered around the dairy room and learned to make everything from yogurt, ricotta and paneer to chevre and gouda. We also held our fair share of their baby goats…which cemented my broody desire for a goat-filled life.
After figuring out the basics… I immediately dropped a bunch of money on supplies and a wine fridge, to use as a cheese cave. This act is not unlike the newby skier who buys the fanciest outfit before getting on the hill. I’m not saying I don’t totally use everything I bought… there were just an awful lot of bloomy rind goat cheeses that turned into bloomy rind hockey pucks.
There were also some victories though. I realized that even though my favorite cheese was the hardest to make, I could make tons of feta and infuse the brine with garlic, dill, rosemary, or whatever the hell I wanted and that was almost as awesome.
I will explain how to go about making both kinds of cheese in future posts and you will probably be way bummed you haven’t been doing this for years… I sure as hell was.