Last week I had to make a quick business trip to the amazing food city of Atlanta, where I was fortunate to have lived and worked for five years. I’m always happy to swing through The ATL to check out any new culinary goings-on, but this trip in particular was welcome for another reason: it gave me the opportunity to catch up with my dear wine guru friends Beverly and Ed Travis of Southern Slopes International Wines.
On the last day of my trip, I wrapped up my business in time to check out the selection at Alon’s in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood with the intention of picking up some goat cheese to bring to the Travises. I saw all the usual suspects: French Loire-style cheese, Bijou from Vermont Creamery, a huge variety of chèvres from California. Then I spied Le Chèvre Noir, the black-wax-rinded goat cheddar from Quebec, Canada. I tried a sample and was reminded how superb it is, so I bought a big chunk, grabbed some fresh bread and local figs, and headed over to the Travis residence.
One of the many reasons I love to drop in on Ed and Bev is because they have a – wait for it – tree house. It is perched about thirty feet above ground-level in a giant oak tree with easy access from their master bedroom. The place is fantastically furnished: they have a swinging couch, a gorgeous antique rocking chair and even cable TV! Needless to say, having a meal in the tree house always feels like a special occasion.
Upon my arrival, we busted out my treats and got down to business. Bev heated up the bread, I trimmed the wax rind off the cheddar, and Ed grabbed two bottles of wine he said would be the perfect pairing.
Le Chèvre Noir is made by the Fromagerie Tournevant, located in the picturesque town of Chesterville, Quebec (known as “Quebec’s little Switzerland”). This cheese is made like traditional cheddars, where the curds are first milled to produce that ideal crumbly texture. The cheese is then aged for a minimum of one year; the aging process softens the “goaty” quality while retaining the mineral flavor elements that well-crafted goat cheeses express. It has a bit of sweetness, a nice, punchy sharpness, and a great moisture content (maintained by the wax rind) that gives it a soft, firm texture. Goat cheddars are rare, especially ones aged for a year, because the demand for fresh (as opposed to aged) goat cheese is so high.
While at the table, Ed, Beverly and I discussed how this cheese has multiple uses: it would make a delicious mac n’ cheese, a fantastic tuna melt, and even the ideal game-day nachos. The cheese was perfectly accompanied by our Brown Turkey figs, the warm bread, and the Foris 2013 Pinot Gris from Oregon’s Rogue Valley (appropriate for the rogue-ish Ed, though not so much for Bev). Our meal was simple and delicious – somewhat of a glorified ploughman’s lunch. The perfect spread for a tree house picnic amongst good, old friends!