We've tried smoked cheese before, but it's usually something we associate with more robust cheeses like Gouda and Cheddar. (Mmm... smoked Gouda!)
So when we were looking for a crumbly cheese for a big salad this past week and the cheesemonger pointed out this smoked chevre, we were intrigued by the idea of a smoked goat cheese. This is an American goat cheese made by Westfield Farm in Hubbardston, Massachusetts. The cheese is made fresh and then cold smoked for 14 hours.
The first taste packed a powerful punch: our initial thought was that it tasted like a goat barn on fire. The light sweetness of chevre was buried beneath strong, nearly acrid flavors of hickory smoke. This is definitely not a cheese to serve by itself, except in very small quantities.
Then we mixed it into a huge dinner salad, and the smoky flavor got a little mellowed out by all the other fresh vegetables and legumes tossed in. It gave the whole salad a deeper, richer smoky taste that we really enjoyed. It might not be our first pick for our next salad, though; it still was pretty strong.
But we can think of a lot of other great uses for this strong cheese. Crumbled into pasta dishes or layered in casseroles it could bring a smoky flavor to dishes with no meat, and add a woodsy, hickory taste to dishes with a combination of other lighter cheeses.
• Buy it: Hickory Smoked Capri, available for $4.99/4 ounces at Westfield Farm.
(Images: Faith Durand)