The artisan cheese explosion in America couldn’t have happened without cheesemakers like Judy Schad to pave the way. With all due respect to talented newbie cheesemakers (many of whom we profile right here), Judy Schad, owner of Capriole Farms, has been crafting handmade goat cheese for over 20 years, and it shows.
Located in Indiana, right over the Kentucky border, Capriole Farms makes several different styles of goat cheese, from fresh to aged. (Judy worked solo for years; her daughter Kate now works alongside her.) All the cheeses are made of milk from a single herd of 350 Nubian, Saanen, and Alpine goats. (Judy knows them all by name.)
One of Capriole’s most remarkable creations is Sofia, a goat cheese that’s aged for about five days. Sofia is remarkable in that it’s both mild and full of flavor. Milky, fresh testing, and smooth, it has no trace of the chalky or gummy quality common you often find in mass-produced goat cheese. Sofia is the perfect topping for mixed greens—go ahead and plunk a slice on a salad of arugula, mizuna, and other lettuces dressed with a simple vinaigrette. Smear some on a hunk of good bread. Have a bit with a sip or two of Sauvignon Blanc. It’s best not to heat Sofia—eat it at room temperature, and savor it simply. And keep it away from strong flavors that would compete; this cheese will hold its own all by itself.
Sofia has a layer of wrinkled mold on the outside that comes from the particular starter culture that Capriole uses. Curds are ladled into molds along with vegetable ash. The ash both coats the outside and is marbled throughout the cheese; it contributes a tangy, salty quality. The cheese will continue aging after you order it and gets even more delicious; it lasts up to two weeks stored in the fridge and wrapped in waxed paper.
Sofia is available at selected cheese shops or by calling Capriole Farms at 800-448-4628. You can also order it by visiting www.capriolegoatcheese.com.