To see how far goat cheese has come since beet salads of the ’80s, you don’t need to go to France—just look in our backyard. New York State farms are producing an exciting spectrum of goat’s milk cheeses that range from fresh and sprightly chèvre to funk city to a blue unlike any other (mild, fudgy, almost sweet—it’s true!). For a tour of the state’s goat’s cheeses, Tia Keenan is the ultimate guide: She just wrote the Short Stack on chèvre, penned The Art of the Cheese Plate: Pairings, Recipes, Style, Attitude and has eaten her way through so many of the state’s cheeses.
Here are her give favorite NY-made goat’s milk cheeses—they’re all very likeable, very snackable, very picnic-ready:
Lynnhaven Goat Cheeses
“Lynn makes chèvre that are true to the style,” Keenan said of Lynnhaven Goat Cheeses. They’re “fresh, creamy bright, citrusy, and super snackable.” While you can’t go wrong with the plain chèvre, there are other flavors to try out as well—Keenan recommends the honey lavender. Collect ‘em all at the Union Square or Grand Army Plaza Greenmarkets.
Old Chatham Sheepherding x Crown Finish Caves’s “Cloud Heights”
Not only is this cheese tangy, light, and bright, but it’s an example of a very positive collaboration between urban and rural food communities here in New York State. The “ash-ripened little poof of young goat cheese”—as Keenan put it—starts at Old Chatham Sheepherding Company just south of Albany (you might know their Black Sheep Yogurt!). Then, it heads to Crown Finish Caves in Crown Heights to age for a spell. Look for this cheese at special purveyors like Greene Grape Provisions, BKLYN Larder, Mekelburg’s, Marlow and Daughters, Stinky and Saxelby Cheesemongers.
Sprout Creek Farm’s “Madeleine”
Another example of rural-urban symbiosis is Sprout Creek Farm: On their sprawling Duchess County farm, they not only make and sell delicious meats and cheeses, but they also have an education center devoted to teaching kids and adults about the environment and the Hudson Valley foodshed. Of their cow and goat cheeses, Keenan particularly likes “Madeleine,” which she describes as “a dense, gamy, and slightly salty cheese with between 5 to 9 months of age.” As with all aged goat’s milk cheese, also expect a richer, more acidic bite than fresh goat’s milk cheese. Find Sprout Creek Farm cheeses at their farm’s market or online, but also at Murray’s, Marlow and Daughters, Stinky, and Greene Grape Provisions.
Nettle Meadow Farm’s “Briar Summit”
If you’re looking to eat your goat cheese with something sweet, seek out Nettle Meadow Farm’s “Briar Summit” cheese—it’s a mix of goat and sheep’s milk with cow’s milk cream that’s infused with raspberry leaf tea. According to Keenan, “at five ounces each, these bloomy pyramids of aromatic richness are perfect to serve as a tea-time treat (with scones and raspberry jam —hello!).” Find this cheese—and any of Nettle Meadow Farm’s Adirondack-made cheese—at Union Market, Murray’s, Stinky, Saxelby, and Bedford Cheese, among other grocers.
Lively Run Dairy’s Cayuga Blue
For a goat cheese with a bluer hue, check out Lively Run Dairy’s Cayuga Blue, which is made in the Finger Lakes region. It’s reminiscent of a French Roquefort but extremely mild for a blue cheese and doubly unusual because so few goat’s milk blue cheese are made in the United States. (Bon Appetit named it one of the 25 most important cheeses in the country.) Keenan describes it as “mild, firm, and milky, with notes of toasted hazelnut.” Grab your wedge online.