With summer hitting the city, my mind turns to my favorite spontaneous food event: picnics. It's the time where people throw salads, sandwiches, drinks and, of course, some cheese in a basket and head out to the enjoy the sun. To me, few cheeses are better for picnicking than the classic Crottin.
These little cylinders of goat cheese have everything needed for the perfect picnic: they're compact, have a mild flavor that's agreeable to almost anyone, and the younger varieties spread easily with a plastic knife.
Crottins are traditionally made with goat's milk and aged anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months and longer. They have a wonderful nutty taste with a clean lemony acidity. Though the texture does harden as it ages, a young Crottin has the feel of a cheesecake, and just like cheesecake, its flavor
is sweet and lingering.
Numerous producers have tried their hand at the classic Crottin format and you'll have to look no closer than your neighborhood cheese shop to find one. Some of my favorites include Blue Ledge Farm's Crottina
for $6.99, Vermont Butter and Cheese's Bijou for $6.75, as well as the various French producers.
Sprout Creek, who I had the pleasure of visiting this weekend, also makes an excellent mold-ripened version called Sophie. I haven't seen it outside of their market and nearby farmer's markets, but it's worth the price (about $10.00), if you can find it.
Crottins, in all their forms, will be available from most well-stocked cheese shops and range in price from about $3.99 - $10.00.
(photo: Fine Cheeses From France)