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Monday, August 2, 2010

For the love of Goat

 A love story

Once upon a time, a long time ago (okay, back in the 80's) a little girl went with her Mother to Capistrano restaurant in Utica Square. It was here that she encountered the small fried croquette, full of warm soft DELICIOUS cheese. The cheese was Chevre, and the girl was smitten. Sadly, Tulsa lost that gem of a restaurant, but the memory of that first bite of tangy warm goat cheese still remains. It no doubt had a part in turning that little girl into the "Cheese Wench".

Fast forward 20-odd years, and I am even more in love with goat's milk cheeses than ever. As a child, I had no idea that there were so many fantastic varieties of goat cheese being made throughout the world, from Chevre to Gouda to Cheddar and beyond. Since August is "National Goat Cheese Month" I thought it the perfect time to pay homage to my very favorite milk (I'll drink it over most Cow's milk anyday).

This past April, I was fortunate enough to get to take another "Cheese trip" to Northern California to visit two of my favorite creameries on Earth. I'm sure you have read about the fantastic morning I spent at Bellwether Farms in Valley Ford, (if not, scroll down) after which we headed for Sebastopol to visit Redwood Hill Farm, the nation's first Certified Humane Goat Dairy. 

We were met at the creamery by David Bice, marketing guru and one of the 10 children of the couple who founded the sustainably farmed goat dairy in 1968. He was so kind to take a couple of hours out of his busy day to show us around the creamery, and to talk to us about the many award-winning cheeses made there by his sister Jennifer Bice, who took over ownership and duties as cheese maker in 1978.

The "Kids"

After we had seen the creamery, we followed David a few miles down the road to the farm. What an amazing place. The farm, which is home not only to 300 or so dairy goats (many of which are show champions, and ALL of which are individually named) is also home to 3 families of Bices. Here, besides tending to the goats and their small flock of chickens, they grow an expansive garden of fruits and vegetables, have an organic apple orchard and were on that day planting an olive grove as well. Their goat herd consists of 4 of the 6 major breeds of dairy goats: Alpine, LaMancha, Nubian, and Saanen. They are friendly, VERY curious, intelligent and have loads of personality. These goats live their entire lives here at the farm, with plenty of space to roam freely. The older goats retire from milk production to spend the rest of their days happily enjoying life on the farm. To take a virtual tour of Redwood Hill Farm, click here.

With so many goats running around, there's bound to be cheese nearby...

In addition to the delicious and healthy goat milk yogurt and Kefir the Bices produce, there are also many fantastic artisan cheeses. Jennifer tends toward the French-style cheeses, and makes fantastic examples such as Bucheret (for the French Bucheron), Camellia (named after a favorite goat and made in the style of a Camembert) California Crottin and Fresh Chevre (both plain and 3 other fantastic flavors...the Roasted Chile is my personal fave). She also makes Goat Milk Cheddar, Raw Milk Feta and a seasonal cheese named "Gravenstein Gold" which has a rind washed in Gravenstein apple cider. Redwood Hill Farm's goat Yogurt and Kefir are available at Whole Foods Markets, and you can ask your favorite cheese retailer to order any of their delicious cheeses.

What you may not know...

 Many people with cow milk allergies can drink goat milk because it contains a different kind of protein.

Goat milk has 13% less lactose than cow milk, and 41% less than human milk. 

The milk-fat particles are small, making goat milk very easy to digest.

Babies do extremely well on goat milk formulas with folic acid supplements, when a mother does not nurse or can not nurse her own baby .

Goat milk has superior ease of digestion and buffering properties, making it an ideal convalescent diet for people with digestive upsets or ulcers.

Goat milk fatty acids have a unique metabolic ability to limit cholesterol deposits in body tissues. [2% Goat Milk has 0% cholesterol]

Goat milk and its products, including butter, are pure white because all the yellow beta carotene is already converted to colourless pure vitamin A.

Compared to cow's milk, goat milk has similar amounts of protein, fat, iron, vitamin C and vitamin D. Goat milk has more natural vitamin A, more vitamin B and less lactose.

Fresh wholesome goat milk contributes to the strong and healthy developmen of growing children.

Goat milk is delicious!

Get it fresh!

Once you have tasted farm fresh milk, it is very hard to go back to the grocery store brands. Did you know there are many local farms and dairies that will sell fresh cow and goat's milk? No matter where you live in the states, you can find the location nearest you at

Locally, I usually buy from Allen & Judy Calvert at HLA Country Farms in Talala, OK. They sell fresh raw Animal Welfare Approved Jersey Cow and Nubian Goat milk, as well as handcrafted cheeses just north of Collinsville.

Come fall in love!

 For those interested in learning just why I'm so crazy about goat cheeses, I am teaching a class at The Stock Pot on Wednesday, August 18th called "All About the Goat" in which we will sample goat milk, yogurt, kefir and many delicious cheeses (including some from Redwood Hill Farm). Mark Stenner from the Tulsa Wine Club will be on hand with some delicious wine pairings. For more info call 918-627-1146.

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