Portland Cheese Blog

A Tale of Two Goat Cheeses (from Trader Joe’s)
June 9, 2009, 6:13 am
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“You there. Cheese – what day is it?” – Ebenezer Scrooge, A Muppet Christmas Cheese (1993)IMG_0359

Hi folks, here at Portland Cheese Blog, we aim to inform discerning cheese-aholics of the best offerings at local grocery stores around Portland, Oregon. Tonight’s investigation will survey two of the goat’s milk offerings at SE 39th Ave.’s Trader Joe’s. On this, the cheesiest of Portland blogs, we dutifully represent a variety of palettes. Tonight’s cast – MK, NJ, and the infamous Toop.  We rate our cheese on a 4-baa system.

CHEESE #1 – Trader Joe’s brand “Goat’s Milk Cheddar Cheese” (5 mo. Age, $9.99 lb.)  Average Baa Rating: 2.17 baas

Toop: Well, first of all, I don’t know…

MK: You know, I’ve never liked goat’s cheese. This fact seems to categorically disqualify me from writing for a cheese blog, but that bitter diaper taste feels terrible on my tongue.  With that said, I’ve never had a goat’s milk cheddar before. It’s strange – really bland and creamy, but kicks in the end with the diapers again.

Toop: Well, first of all, I need to cleanse my palate with a touch of wine.  Tonight we’ve paired Trellis Cabernet Sauvingon with our cheeses.  I like totalitarian liberalism and therefore do not like Trader Joe’s.  This cheese tastes like butter, kind of, but it does not taste much like a nice cheddar—sharp, flaky, yummy—I give it 1 ½ baas.

NJ: Frankly, I have to disagree with my esteemed colleagues.  I find this cheese to be one of the gems of the trader joe’s brand cheese selection.  It’s a simple, white cheddar of medium hardness.  True, it begins with a uniquely unremarkable flavor, but the finish is nothing to sniff at.  If you have ever had a good portion of braised lamb, one out of which the genuine flavor of the animal has not been cooked, then this final flavor will be a familiar one.  This flavor, I believe, is what my fine and honorable fellow reviewers refer to as the “diaper” taste.  I contend that this cheese begins innocently, but ultimately reveals its self to be a time-release bomb packed with an explosion that will delight your palette.  3 baas.

MK: I foster a little bit of contention for NJ’s characterization of this cheese as an agent, though consider him a near expert on goat’s milk products. Perhaps appreciation is in the tongue of the beholder. I say 2 baas.

CHEESE #2 – Trader Joe’s Brand “Goat Milk Brie: Soft Ripened Goat Cheese” (one-size-fits-all-large-coaster-size, $2.50) Average Baa Rating: 2.85 Baas.

Toop: I think I can speak for everyone when I say that the ubiquitous Brie gets slightly tiring in this day and age.  Bries, to me, are very un-tasty.  This “Goat Milk Brie” however is pretty nice.  It has a soft, thin exterior—not chalky at all—with a soft creamy inside and a soft, slightly sharp finish.  (I should note that I’m totally bluffing with this “chalky” “sharp” bullshit…I’m fucking wasted right now)  I give it 3 ½ baas.

MK: As Toop approaches maudlin and bounces off of the couch, I’ll take over for the brie reporting. I too tire of the ubiquitous dinner-party brie, though I favor soft goat cheeses over their harder counterparts, i.e. Trader Joe’s goat’s milk cheddar. Eating this brie is like stuffing a boiled diaper into my mouth, but hey, I kind of like that. As Toop noted, the texture is comforting, and the rind is quite tasty. It’s a surprise for me to come around with a goat cheese – 3 baas.

NJ: I must again disagree with my venerable counterparts.  This cheese does not entertain my palette with the same subtle complexities that the allegedly diaper-tasting goat’s milk cheddar did (I am beginning to suspect that MK has some sort of infant fecal fixation).  It’s rind, although emphatically soft as Toop would have it, is waxy and will not break down easily against the tooth.  The cheese redeems itself, however, by avoiding the overwhelming saltiness typical of most Brie.  The salt flavor rises gently, in the wake of the waxy rind taste, and ebbs before it can linger, save in the cobwebbed vault of memory—2 baas, I say.