As wine lover’s know all too well, the term ‘terroir’ is used to describe the magic of Mother Nature’s fingerprint on wine and foods. It roughly translates to mean ‘sense of place’ and refers to the sum of the effects of geography, climate and soil and even plant genetics and how this creates the characteristics and quality of wine and foods like cheese, coffee and chocolate, to name but a few. In North America we now use the term ‘somewhereness’ to describe this sense of place.
When it comes to cheese making in Canada, my country, two popular examples of products celebrating ‘somewhereness’ are Trappist cheese from Our Lady of the Prairies Abbey in Holland, Manitoba and closer to my home, the fresh goat’s milk cheeses produced by Cross Wind Farm in Keene, Ontario (http://crosswindfarm.ca) This goat cheese has become world renowned due to its distinctiveness, its butter-like texture and rich flavour. Said another way, Cross Wind Farm goat cheese is anything but dry and crumbly.
This style of fresh goat cheese is unique because cheese maker Cindy Hope produces her cheese from 5 varieties of goats that all graze on the same farmland for more than 7 years. While each variety adds its attributes to the milk and resulting cheese, the fact that they all feed on the same land ensures a consistency of flavour and quality in the milk. The Saanen goat variety can be compared to the Holstein cow in that this breed is durable and produces a long lactation from 12 to 18 months.
Cindy combines this milk with the milk from the Nubian breed with higher butterfat, producing in the cheese greater richness, flavour and sweetness. This breed, however, has a shorter lactation of 6 to 9 months.
The Swiss Alpine variety provides a long lactation and middle butterfat content. The Spanish Lamancha breed offers long lactation and great components to their milk. Toggenburg is the Dutch variety. Cindy keeps a couple of these goats for their stability to the milk and therefore to the cheese. Crosswind Farm goat cheese can be matched to any artisan French Chèvre.
The season when the animal is milked is also important to its distinctive characteristics. At Crosswind Farm the goats are milked throughout the year.
Goat’s milk cheeses are usually low in fat and calories and high in protein and calcium. Goat’s milk cheeses, in general, are also a great source of the amino acid tryptophan, phosphorus, B2 and B6, potassium, niacin and the antioxidant selenium.
Here is a quick and easy recipe and wine pairing celebrating a fresh goat cheese that you can find that is made closest to your own home.
Fresh goat cheese (chevre) tends to be tangy in flavour thus deserving of a crisp, white wine with a good backbone of acidity. If you prefer red wine, choose one with decent acidity, as well, such as Pinot Noir or Gamay Noir.
CHERRY TOMATO, FRESH GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI WITH FRESH MINT
Serves 4 to 6
Olive oil as needed
1 French baguette, sliced 1
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 125 mL
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar 50 mL
3 cloves garlic, minced 3
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives 125 mL
4 cups sliced cherry tomatoes 1 L
1/2 cup of fresh chopped mint 125 mL
1/2 cup crumbled fresh Goat Cheese 125 mL
In a fry pan add enough oil to coat the bottom. On high heat, pan fry baguette sliced, each side, until golden. Drain on paper towel. Set aside. In a bowl combine olive oil, balsamic, garlic, olives, tomatoes, fresh mint. Fold together. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, top each toast with a tablespoon of bruschetta mixture. Sprinkle crumbled goat cheese on top. The saltiness from the Goat Cheese and olives makes this hors d’oeuvre an ideal partner for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris.
Suggested Wine: Crisp Dry White: Brut Champagne or Brut Sparkling Wine, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Canadian Pinot Gris, Portuguese Vinho Verde, Italian Orvieto or Cortese di Gavi or Pinot Grigio, Spanish Viura. Pair the wine’s acidity to the tanginess in goat cheese and balsamic.
For a FREE copy of The Wine and Cheese Lover’s Cookbook, click the book cover below.