There’s nothing quite like a quality piece of cheese – whether it be a slightly sweet hunk of gouda, a salty wedge of creamy brie or a slice of sharp cheddar. But, for the lactose intolerant, cheese is usually a distant memory, due to the gastrointestinal distress that comes from indulging in dairy.
Cheese made from goat’s milk is an alternative for dairy-sensitive cheese lovers because it contains less lactose than cow’s milk, making it easier to digest. Many local chefs have taken up the trend, using Canadian-made goat cheeses from British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta in their dishes.
Jeremy McKinnon, executive chef at the Westin, is lactose intolerant, but he enjoys the taste and versatility of goat’s cheese. Share’s dinner menu features a croustillant, made from dough that’s 75 per cent goat cheese. McKinnon fills the dough with wild mushrooms and bakes it.
“You can really taste the tanginess of the goat cheese in this dish,” says McKinnon. He also stocks an intense ash-ripened Quebec goat cheese called Le Cendrillon for sampling plates.
Being smaller animals, goats produce less milk than cows. And the lower yields make producing goat’s cheese more expensive than cow’s cheese. Woolwich Triple Creme goat brie is $5.83 per 100 g from Planet Organic while the store carries Comox brie, made from cow’s milk, for $3.99 per 100 g.
Brandon Pridie, junior sous chef at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, uses Smoky Valley chevre in the hotel’s food outlets. He prefers using a locally-made product because “it gives the dish its own identity and sense of place,” he says. “You can taste the terroir; you get the climate in your food.” A goat eating Albertan grass is going to produce cheese with a different flavour than a goat from Quebec, says Pridie.
The flavour of a goat cheese also depends on the age of the cheese, its firmness and how it’s been treated. The older the goat cheese, the stronger it is, and it tends to lose some of the “hay” flavour of younger, unripened goat cheese. “I think … aged goat cheeses are more interesting and complex in flavour,” says Tania Hrebicek, co-owner of Everything Cheese.*
The Everything Cheese store serves up Canadian-made goat cheeses, including Tomme du Haut-Richelieu, a semi-soft goat cheese from Quebec, and chevre noir, an aged goat cheddar covered in black wax. The chevre noir tastes similar to cheddar, so it is more approachable than an unripened goat cheese.
Hardware Grill‘s chef and owner, Larry Stewart, uses Fairwinds Farm‘s products or Woolwich’s goat cheese from Quebec. The restaurant’s menu features a goat cheese chicken sandwich, while its beet salad includes a walnut crusted chevre.
But for Stewart, goat cheese isn’t a new trend; he’s been serving it since 1996. “I’ve probably been serving goat cheese in Edmonton before anyone else,” he says.
*Editor’s note: Everything Cheese recently closed its doors permanently.