Spring has finally arrived and for me that means longer days, the arrival of spring herbs and vegetables and of course fresh goat cheese! The word chèvre in French means “goat”. An appropriate name for a cheese so simple and un-manipulated, it’s the closest thing to eating what the goat’s been eating – herbs and grasses and hay – transmuted through the art of cheesemaking.
While I’ve always loved goat cheese, it wasn’t until visiting a goat farm where I experienced my first taste of fresh goat cheese and I haven’t thought about it the same way since. What makes spring goat cheese so special? Spring is birthing season for many animals and goats are no exception. After the babies are born, the mother produces the richest goat milk of the season. The result is a cheese so delicious that all you need to do is add a baguette and some honey to drizzle over the cheese and you have the perfect breakfast or dessert.
Marché just received our first shipment of fresh chèvre from Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign, Illinois. Husband and wife team Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband left academia as soil scientists to start their own farmstead artisan goat dairy about ten years ago and have been making a variety of excellent cheeses ever since. Lately they have been busy on the farm with over 100 new baby goats arriving over the last few weeks.
I’ve already brought some of their amazing chèvre home to make one of my favorite recipes – Asparagus and Goat Cheese Salad. The combination of lightly steamed fresh asparagus drizzled with a lemon-olive oil vinaigrette, crumbled goat cheese, radishes and fresh chives is a delicious first taste of spring.