Gawking at Goat Cheese

The unusual rind on Capricious goat cheese.

Take a close look at this rind. Come on. Closer, closer.

How can you not gawk at a cheese with an exterior that’s almost burlap-like in color and texture?

Have you ever seen the likes of this before? I know I haven’t.

Capricious is the name of this wondrous goat cheese.

And I have cookbook authors Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein of the RealFoodHasCurves blog to thank for this discovery.

The duo were in San Francisco earlier this year, when they stumbled upon this glorious cheese sold at the Cowgirl Creamery shop in the Ferry Building that’s made by Achadinha Cheese Company of Petaluma.

The milk for the cheese comes from the Pacheco Family Goat Dairy that’s been around since 1953. Five years ago, owners Donna and Jim Pacheco, started making cheese, too, from the milk from their 1,400-goat herd. After Mark and Bruce raved about it to me, the Pachecos were kind enough to send me a small sample of the cheese to try.

A different kind of goat cheese -- dry, crumbly and aged.

The Capricious sells for $29.95 a pound. That may sound pricey, but not when you realize all the love and work that’s gone into it.

The cheese is completely handmade and hand-rolled. Each wheel is turned daily to endure even mold coverage, then washed and rubbed down with olive oil to protect the interior of the cheese as it ages anywhere from three to 10 months, depending upon the time of year and the amount of butter fat in the goats milk.

If all you’re used to fresh, soft, tangy goat cheese, this will be a revelation. Capricious is hard and crumbly, almost like a Parmigiano or Gruyere in texture. It has a pungent smell of grass and musk. The flavor is sharp and powerful, with salty, nutty and buttery qualities. It fills your mouth with a grand flourish and doesn’t bid adieu for a long, long time.

The cheese, which won “Best in Show” at the 2002 American Cheese Society event, would be splendid grated over hot pasta or sliced alongside fresh apples or pears.

However you serve it, don’t forget to show off that rind. It’s worth gawking at.

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