Being a cheesemonger has its perks. I get to try cheeses of all different varieties on a daily basis but today was a special day for me because I got to try a cheese that I have heard and read about but have never tried! This doesn't happen to me too often and I was so excited to take this cheese home and try it. The cheese I am talking about is O'Banon from Capriole, Inc in Indiana. This cheese is an American rendition of the Banon from Dauphiné or Provence, France. It is not a cheese that I carry all the time in my cheese case, but it is one that we rotate in when we can.
This picture above isn't really the best and I do apologize. This is what the cheese looks like in it's whole form. It looks like a little cheese present! Wrapped in chestnut leaves that have been soaked in bourbon, then tied off with a bit of raffia, it is really an interesting cheese and is quite a treat.
When I first opened up the cheese, I was hit with the scent of the bourbon but this dissipated very quickly. I then cut into the leaves - which were a lot thicker than I thought - and revealed the chalky white paste inside. The first flavor that I tasted when I put the cheese on my tongue was a bit of salt followed by the wonderful goat tang that us goat cheese eaters know and love. Consistency-wise, it is a really creamy cheese while still being slightly chalky. The bourbon soaked chestnut leaves add a little bit of a zing that you wouldn't get with any other fresh goat cheese. While typing this blog, I have eaten half of the 6 oz wheel because the flavor is so unique compared to any other goat cheese that I have had and it keeps me coming back for more!
Steve Jenkins talks about this specific cheese in his book Cheese Primer and says that the Capriole, Inc O'Banon "...are much, much better than any I've tasted in France." This to me says that while I would love to try the French Banon whenever I have the opportunity, I am blessed with a cheese where the American version is just as good or better than the European original.
When it comes to pairings, this cheese is great with a Pinot Grigio (what I'm drinking now) or the good ol' stand by - Sauvignon Blanc. I could also see it working with some of the sweeter whites like a Riesling or Viognier.
That's all I have to say for now, I hope everyone is getting excited for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday! I am cooking this year for my family and am really excited to see everyone. I'll try to squeeze in one more post before Thanksgiving. Until then... eat, drink and be happy!