For those who don’t know, Miss Anne passed away last month. I took the above picture of her in February while I was working in the greenhouse and she was enjoying a warm day, hanging out with her “farmer daughter.”
During mom’s last days, my good friend Judy Schad, owner of Capriole Goat Cheese, sent a “care package” of her sublime cheeses. Judy, along with Mary Keehn, Allison Hooper, Laura Chenel and Sally Jackson led the artisan cheese revolution in the US in the 80s, giving European cheeses a “run for their money”. Another example of “Girls rule and Boys”… well, our US Cheese Boys rule right along with our Cheese Girls…
The cheeses were beautifully presented. I wish I had taken a picture but my mind was otherwise occupied. It included wheels of O’Banon, Mont St. Francis. a tube of her lemony, fresh chevre and Capriole’s latest creation, Flora; all nestled beautifully in a bed of straw.
Summers in Georgia are hot and humid, discouraging cooking. A cheese plate makes a satisfying ending to those long, “drippy” days…
I kept the plate simple, adding only fresh blueberries and Kelly’s Jelly’s Blueberry Lemon Preserves. Lemon with goat cheeses is always a safe pairing choice; blueberries with lemon are a favorite of The Man and me. Paired with the blueberry and lemon flavors, Judy’s cheeses gave us that “falling in love with cheese all over again” feeling.
We started with O’Banon, wrapped in Woodford Reserve-soaked Chestnut leaves, is a dense, refreshing fresh chevre disk with a hint of the bourbon from the leaves. It was one of Judy’s early creations based on the French Banon and made “famous” when Steve Jenkins declared it “… much, much better than any I’ve tasted in France.” I must admit, I couldn’t stop eating this cheese, which I ate naked on a Salem Baking‘s Moravian Lemon Meyer Cookie and then added the Blueberry Lemon Preserves. I went back and forth throughout the meal from the other cheeses to the O’Banon. There were barely crumbs left when the meal ended.
Following the O’Banon, we tasted the Mont St. Francis, a reddish washed rind that when opened, you immediately understand the meaning of “stinky cheese”. Not for the meek, but one you’ll happily share with those you love and who love you, regardless of your cheesy, smelly feet breath. We both fell in love with this cheese especially with the preserves’ sweetness that complemented its hearty, beefy flavor.
We saved her new Flora for last; the creamline under the ash and geortrichum rind was just forming while the paste remained firm and spreadable. With just a hint of mushroom, Flora, also paired well with the blueberry-lemon theme I chose for the plate. This turned out to be The Man’s favorite of the three I served. According to Janet Fletcher’s review of this cheese, Judy ships this cheese when it is between 10 and 14 days old. The rind was crinkly, brainy-looking, moist and alive a week after arriving when we ate it.
Spaulding Gray would have given this his 4 Paws rating, as do I.
Even though Miss Anne didn’t get to enjoy this plate, she was there in spirit and I suspect her always adventurous palate would have chosen the Mont St. Francis as her favorite. Mom tried any cheese or any dish I created, surprising me at how developed her palate was. She will be missed but now she is with dad and has all her memories back.
My heartfelt thanks to Judy for sharing her cheeses with us, especially during this stressful time. Your lovely cheeses helped make our new journey better.
Congratulations to our Facebook Cheese Study Group Scholarship Winners, Kelley Jewell and Tyler Frankenberg. Both sat for the ACS CCP Exam® this past July in Denver and both passed becoming members of the elite group of ACS Certified Cheese Professionals®. From all of us who helped make your cheese dreams come true, we applaud you and wish you more success as your cheese journey continues!!!