Naked Goat, an incredibly tame, buttery aged goat's milk cheese, was a recent find at my local cheese counter. I was having a dairy ennui day, bored with everything due to the longstanding gray weather and a string of bummer new cheeses I'd tried out. I lamented (read: whined) to my cheesemonger that everything sucked, and that I thought I might have hit a cheese wall.
She politely averted her eyes so I wouldn't see her rolling them up into her skull, and passed a small slip of paper over the counter. Once again, a cheesemonger to the rescue.
This little goat cheese, a firm, oily variety that many might pass off as sheep's milk at first glance, is surprisingly un-goat-like. Firm like Pecorino, oily like Manchego, and buttery like Fontina, Naked Goat is an enigmatic treat. Cheese novices will love its salty kapow, while weathered cheese lovers will adore its grassy followup. The inexperienced might miss the fact that it's a goat cheese at all, which makes it a prime candidate for retuning anti-goat folks to a more openminded, capricious existence.
Produced in the Murcia region of Spain, Naked Goat is made with raw goat's milk and aged for six months to pure, bold, complicated perfection. It's tangy yet sweet, creamy yet firm, sheepy yet contains only goat's milk. The goaty tang is still there, but it's not nearly as obvious as is it in many other goat cheeses. This intriguing personality makes Naked Goat a great cheese for your next cheese plate; it will keep your guests guessing.
The other thing about Naked Goat is that it's super versatile. It melts well, shreds well, and cooperates when served with honey and almonds or grated over the top of a hearty, meat-based salad. Its texture is both tender and crumbly, much like a buttery shortbread. In fact, I might go so far as to say that this is the sablé of cheese, albeit with a blissfully final note of salted almonds and grassy, late-summer pastures.
Eat. This. Cheese. Now. Please.
About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in San Francisco. Stephanie's cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, celebrates America's favorite dish by recreating it with small production, specialty cheeses. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts.