I was wandering around the cheese section of my local Shop-Rite supermarket recently when I saw something strange: small goat cheese "logs" which had dramatically odd colors, and, when I checked more closely, correspondingly odd flavors. So I snapped up a selection of the weirdest ones I could find and gave them a try. I ended up with one from Alouette Cheese, and two from Montchevre (Betin, Inc.).
Just as a review, goat cheese has a few differences from the typical cheeses made from cow's milk. For one thing, it doesn't melt in the same manner--instead it basically just softens when exposed to heat. Also, due to the presence of more particular types of fatty acids, cheese made from goat's milk tends to have a more tart flavor. Finally, while some goat cheeses are made with the usual rennet, it can also be made by adding lemon or vinegar to raw goat's milk, or by simply letting the milk naturally curdle, and then draining and pressing the resulting curds. Goat cheese is popular around the world. Some of the countries which particularly enjoy and produce it are Venezuela, the U.S., the U.K., Turkey, Australia, China, France, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, and of course, Greece. For more info about goats in general, and their meat, consult my June 23, 2013 post. And to read about a wonderfully bizarre Scandinavian goat cheese (one especially popular in Norway), gjetost, see the June 4, 2012 post.
Alouette Cheese is an American brand of the French company Savencia Fromage & Dairy (nee Bongrain). Jean-Noel Bongrain started Alouette in the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania in 1974, and then later expanded into Illinois as well. The company proudly notes that almost all of their cheeses are kosher and gluten-free, and that they use no animal rennet. They also are known for their soft spreadable cheeses, dips, brie, and crumbled cheeses.
Montchevre (Betin) is also an American production started by French expats fairly recently. Arnaud Solandt and Jean Rossard started it back in 1989. They make cheese only from goats, over 75 different kinds. Alternate flavors of the 4 ounce (133 gram) "logs" I got are natural, garlic and herb, 4 peppers, honey, jalepeno, lemon zest, fig and olive, peppadew, pumpkin, truffle, and sundried tomato and basil. The company's products are now non-GMO, too, if you care about this issue.
Now I'll discuss the cheeses themselves. All were the 4 ounce/133 gram "logs."
1) Alouette Chavrie mild goat cheese with sundried tomato, garlic, and parsley: This looked whitish, with many red and green specks embedded in it, especially around the exterior. I had it plain, sliced into pieces. It was delicious. Kind of tangy, and the tomatoes and garlic spice it up really well. A superior flavor pairing.
2) Montchevre (Betin) goat cheese with blueberry and vanilla. This one had a whitish center, with purplish/blue blueberries embedded around the edge. It was sweet, obviously. I easily detected the blueberries, but not the vanilla, really. Kind of a strange taste, but still top notch. In this case a sweet and savory taste is a winning combination. I think this would make an excellent dessert cheese, if that's a thing.
3) Montchevre goat cheese with cranberry and cinnamon. Once again, the center was a white color, while the outer edge was reddish from the cranberry chunks. This time I could pick out both advertised flavors. And again, the result was very good, and I loved it. Some folks like to serve plates with cheese and fruit (grapes, etc.) on them, so I guess this and the blueberry kind just make this more efficient. Another dessert cheese.
So, yet again, I tried some new varieties of cheese and came away impressed. Each of these logs were $3.99, meaning they weren't ridiculously expensive, or anything. I will definitely buy these again, and wholeheartedly recommend them. And hopefully I'll be able to locate some of the alternate flavors and products from both of these companies. I'm particularly eager to pick up some "peppadew," because I'm not sure what flavor this is. Peppers with honeydew melon?--I'll have to find out.