It's goat cheese season. Live it up, with decadence of a different sort. Typically, a triple creme cheese will be made with cow milk only, like a richer, more amped-up brie... that is, unless you seek out Nettle Meadow Kunik, a most unique abberation that leaves much for which to be thankful.Kunik marries the richness of a triple creme with the complexity of a great goat cheese. But how?
The answer lies in numbers: 75% goat milk, 25% whole Jersey cow cream (from the breed of cow with the highest butterfat content), and 84% butterfat, that's how. It's that last number that makes Kunik a triple creme; any cheese over 84% in butterfat content is classified as such.
A quick aside: triple cremes are deceptively not as fattening as you'd think: since fat in cheese is weighed in parts per dry matter, a high-moisture cheese like Kunik is actually going to have more water weight than the same amount of an aged, hard cheese like parmigiano. Ounce for ounce, a creamy, spreadable cheese is actually less fattening than a dense, dry cheese.
Back to the matter at hand: Kunik is made in the Adirondack Mountains at Nettle Meadow Farm by Lorraine Lambiase and Sheila Flanagan. In addition to Kunik, the farm makes fresh goat cheeses, and even has an animal sanctuary, where retired farm animals live out their lives. Their cheeses are flavored with everything from horseradish to lemon verbena to honey and lavender, and they've started making a triple milk cheese, too, made from cow, sheep, and goat milk.
Somehow, as if through some magical handling of curd, they've created a dynamic, yet mild cheese-- with such incredible texture you'll swear you're eating whipped cream cheese. It's fluffy as can be, like the lightest cheesecake ever, and makes a brilliant argument against one of the only other incarnations of bloomy rinded goat cheeses you'll see of this style-- goat brie, which tends to be just about as industrial and ubiquitous as every so-called "regular" brie.
This, on the other hand, is unique. It's flavor is refined, clean, and bright. Unlike anything else, really, a tasty tasty tasty combo of cow and goat, with a rind that in my opinion masks the delicacy of the paste, so leave that aside. Kunik is hand-made, crafted by just a couple of people (and animals) as opposed to many, and those moist, fluffy curds are delicately ladeled, wheel by wheel. The result is a most-spreadable, most-buttery, nutty, slightly goaty puck that'll do wonders atop a nut bread or salad, but which most formidably stands all alone.
Related: The Cheesemonger's Seasonal Spotlight: Goat Cheese
Nora Singley is an avid lover of cheese, and for some time she was a Cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City, where she continues to teach cheese classes for the public. She is currently an assistant chef on The Martha Stewart Show.