Two weeks back, Fort Collins, Colorado, was ground zero for goat fanatics from all across the country. It was the site of the annual American Dairy Goat Association conference, where every year a competition is held to choose the best goat cheeses in the country. This year's winner was Redwood Hill Farm's California Crottin. Modeled after the Loire Valley's Crottin de Chavignol, California crottin is a tangy, crumbly goat cheese with a pearl-white paste and a subtle, earthy flavor.
A young crottin is moist and delicate, like a fresh goat cheese that has a little more sourness than usual. As it continues to age, its texture becomes more brittle, its flavor takes on a sharper, nuttier bite, and the rind begins to turn a darker shade of brown. In fact this brownish color and disc shape have led to crottin's dubious distinction of being one of the only cheeses named after something decidedly inedible: crottin in French means "dung" or "manure."
There's no proper time to eat crottin; some enjoy the innocence of their fluffy mild youth, while others prefer them when they're old and get a little chip on their shoulders. In fact, when they're old and crumbly, they make an excellent grating cheese, a characteristic that people don't usually associate with goat cheeses.