This is the second Hooked on Cheese column in our multi-part series focusing on “grocery store cheeses.” Great cheese doesn’t have to be pricey and difficult to obtain; there are many excellent options that can be found at your average grocery store. Raymond will be featuring his favorite cheeses that are readily accessible no matter where you are or what your budget.
I'd hazard to guess that most cheese lovers have at some point purchased one of those ubiquitous 4-ounce logs (or bûches) of fresh goat cheese for a recipe that calls for chèvre. You know the ones I mean: wrapped in plastic and found in every type of grocery store, these cheeses are great in salads, pizza, spread on toast or a bagel, tossed in pasta – the list goes on. But of the multitude of available varieties, which one should you choose?
While there are a few great readily available brands, for my money one of the all-around best is Couturier. Made in the Hudson Valley of New York state, this cheese has an extremely fresh brightness to it (tastes like springtime!) as well as a nice acidity and creaminess. Couturier only started making goat cheese in the Hudson Valley in 2012, but they have been making it in France for almost 120 years. Needless to say, they know how to make consistently tasty cheese.
Last week at The Cheese Lab (a.k.a. my home office), my team and I tried four flavors from Couturier: Plain, Honey, Four-Pepper and Garlic and Herb. The Plain was fresh, creamy and tart; we spread it on a toasted sesame bagel as a more flavorful substitute for cream cheese. Next we tried the Honey variety with a Braeburn apple, and the richness of the cheese with a bit of honeyed sweetness was great with the crispy, spicy-sweet flavor of the apple. Next up was the Four-Pepper cheese, which we added to a fifteen-ingredient (!) chef's salad. It had enough flavor to contend with the avocados and radishes without overpowering the small-leaf lettuce mix and lemon vinaigrette. Lastly, the Garlic and Herb was perfect with a pasta dish tossed with crushed heirloom tomatoes, red pepper flakes and lots of olive oil. The cheese's creamy texture aided in bringing all the strong flavors together.
These little tubes of goat cheese have so many uses – from omelets to sandwiches to goat's milk cheesecake. Don't be afraid to experiment a little with them! They are reliably delicious and sold at a modest price, and there's nothing better than that.
Additional reporting by Madeleine James.