Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Capriole Cheese:

One of the top priorities on my list of places to visit on vacation last week was Capriole.
It's no secret I have a cheese problem.

I've been known to plan entire shopping trips around what types of cheese I can get at what store. I've purchased and eaten an entire 3 lb half wheel of Cypress Grove's Midnight Moon aged goat gouda. I've thrown a cheese party. There is one drawer in our fridge perpetually reserved for cheese. And with Capriole, a maker of one of the top goat cheeses in the country, a mere 30 minutes away from our hotel in Louisville, a trip out to the farm was a given.

We didn't get to see much of the farm or the goats--it was a cold, rainy and dreary day on our visit. In the spring, the farm holds open houses, which I'd love to attend and we'll probably go back for.

We drove out through the rolling hills of Indiana, down a narrow road and finally made it to a long gravel driveway, with a sign simply stating "CAPRIOLE". The drive was wide enough for only one car, and wound through the woods to the farm where Judy Schad, the co-owner of Capriole, keeps her 400 goat herd. She's been making tangy, creamy goat cheese for over 25 years.

David peered down the drive and gave me a look of annoyance. I knew he was thinking of his new car's 18" Pirelli P Zero rims. "I'm sorry about the path!" I pled. "I didn't know there would be a gravel path." Grudgingly, he started driving through the woods.

We walked into the steamy farm store, where we could see staff moving about in the back room, washing down the kitchen after a long day of cheese making. We rang the goat bells for service and tried some of the cheeses that were available for purchase. As I watched the staff in the back, I noticed that one of them looked familiar.

It wasn't her face that tipped me off at first. It was the fact that though she was wearing gloves, a plastic apron, and dampened work clothes as she power washed a stainless steel sink, Judy was also sporting a large pearl choker. "David." I whispered. "There she is!"

As we were sampling various cheeses, she passed by us carrying a large cardboard box. "Great weather out there, isn't it?" She said, referring to the gloomy afternoon.

I tried to say something, but couldn't figure out what I wanted to say. I was in the presence of someone that I truly admired and never thought I'd meet--a determined lady who has worked extremely hard for many years and makes great cheese that's sold and enjoyed all over the country, co-manages a successful company, and was whimsical enough to wear pearls while cheese making.

So I settled for just smiling at her like an idiot instead.

And just like that, she was gone. "Well, excuse me. I have to go cook!"

She hustled past us with the box, presumably to the house across the drive. It was all I could do not to follow her out the door like a stray puppy, asking if I could stay at the farm as a cheese-making apprentice.

I know my reaction may seem odd to some of you that are not really into cheese, but hey--you've got your rock stars, and I've got mine.

David and I bought a lot of cheese: Sofia; a creamy cheese marbled with vegetable ash, Julianna, and aged raw milk cheese with herb rind; O' Banon, a milder cheese wrapped in bourbon soaked chestnut leaves; as well as two layered tortas, a caliente torta with herbs, and a bourbon chocolate torta with cocoa and bourbon soaked raisins (both aptly named fromage a trois). We took our haul back to our hotel and stashed in the mini fridge we had asked them to put in our room for cheese storage purposes.

Capriole cheese is available in many stores in the tri state, including Jungle Jim's gigantic cheese section. Whole Foods always has the plain goat cheese, Party source has some on occasion, and the Remke in Hyde Park Plaza has recently stepped up their game--I saw Sofia, Julianna, Pipers Pyramid and the Tortas there on Sunday.

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