One of my new favorite stands at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market is the Drake Family goat cheese stand. The woman who offers samples is always really friendly and their cheese samples are delicious. So last week, I splurged and dropped $6 on a small tub of cranberry-walnut chevre:
Six dollars seems like a lot to spend on a tub so small, but I figured I’d consumed about an entire second tub’s worth in samples, so I was getting my money’s worth.
Compared to cheese made from cow’s milk, goat cheese is generally lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol. Since the fat particles in goat’s milk are similar in size to those in human mothers’ milk, it’s easier to digest than cow’s milk, even for lactose-intolerant people.
If you know me, you know as soon as you say, “easy to digest,” I’m sold. Unless you’re talking about literature. I like my literature to be almost prohibitively obtuse.
The Drake Family chevre I bought is creamy and rich like goat cheese should be, and because it has dried cranberries and walnuts mixed into it, making a yummy salad is pretty simple. For lunch one day this week, I just mixed it with some almond slivers and lettuce from Tutti Frutti Farms in Carpinteria (distance from me: 12 miles).
Like almost every product sold at farmers markets nowadays, this goat cheese is “artisan.” It seems to me that the word “artisan” is overused, almost to the point of absurdity, but that might just be because I’ve never been quite sure what it meant.
As it turns out, according to the American Cheese Society (of which I aim to become a card-carrying member someday), cheese is “artisan” or “artisanal” if it is produced by hand in small batches, adhering pretty closely to traditional methods.
Edward Drake started the Drake family farm in West Jordan, Utah when he settled there in 1880. Recently, one of his descendants, Dan Drake, decided to take 143 goats from the original farm and start a goat dairy in Ontario, California (distance from me: 133 miles). As a veterinarian, Dan Drake treats his goats like pets and prioritizes their health.
The best part of the whole thing is that they give each goat a name. If I had a goat, I’d name it Amanda and feed it my landlady’s tomatoes.
On the Drake Family website, you can purchase goat milk, goat cheese, goat milk soap (in case you want to trick someone with a keen sense of smell into thinking you’re a goat), and goat semen. Because, hey, you never know when you’re going to need $100 worth of goat semen.
You can even purchase a whole goat! So if you want to try to produce your own artisan goat cheese, go get your goat.