Just goes to show, individual palates are just that, individual.
Take blue cheese, for instance. I generally like them all, traditional Roquefort, French farmhouse blues, stunning Stichelton, even taste-bud cauterizing Cabrales. Heck, a blue cheese, local Minnesota sheep dairy Shepherd’s Way’s Big Woods Blue is the glamour-shot cover photo on Wedge in the Round’s companion Facebook page.
Imagine my excitement when I found a new blue at the monger’s of which I had heard so much praise, Verde Capra. Yeah, that was going into the bag.
Where: Lombardy, Northern Italy
Milk: goat, pasteurized
Texture: fairly dense, very moist, creamy
Shape: 25lb cylinder
Flavor: An immediate and sharp bite, quite sweet, noticeably NOT salty, long-lingering goatiness
If you are really a curd nerd you may have picked up on what makes Verde Capra pretty rare: it’s a goat’s milk blue. Cheesemaker Ambrogio Arnoldi sources the milk (and the family has done for almost 90 years) from the same region as produces Taleggio. After pasteurization, the milk is inoculated with Penicillium roqueforti then set. Approximately a week into aging, Arnoldi pierces each cheese, allowing air in. Air+Penicillium beasties in a moist cheese = blue (and tasty!). And it’s a new cheese, first made about 5 years ago.
I tried it at the shop and was immediately struck by it’s sweetness, not exactly a dairy/sweet-milk taste but almost a dessert sweet. Immediately thereafter I noticed what wasn’t there: salt. The saltiness is quite restrained; so much so I really wanted to salt the cheese. For all the reviews I’ve read about this being a mildly-flavored blue, it was the opposite on my palate. The sweetness is pronounced, the blue tang is quite sharp, and the goatiness lingers long past the other flavors… for several minutes. It felt… a bit out of balance, there’s a symmetry missing. The combination of the goat milk flavor and the tang tasted metallic. I suspect persons who are challenged by blues and don’t care much for barnyard in their cheese will be put off by Verde Capra.
While this one wouldn’t work for me as a snacker on a cheese plate I did, however, find a use for it… by happenstance.
Yesterday was a glorious Spring day perfect for grilling; made burgers of ground beef, pork and bison, topped with uncured bacon and finished with a small nob of the Verde Capra. The result was a greatly-mellowed flavor, aided by the smoke from the grill, the salt in the burger… quite delicious.
What to drink with it? Always a challenging question with strong blues. I’d turn to a Piedmont Moscato.