One of the things I miss most about being behind the cheese counter everyday is being able to try all of the new cheeses that come through. I often get to try cheeses in a small sample format, but it is never the same as when you have a whole wheel or log and you cut into it and try a nice, fresh piece. By doing that, you really get to see what the character of the cheese is like and how things like the rind and/or paste interact to create the unique flavor of the cheese.
This is one of those instances... I went into the San Jose Whole Foods location a couple of days ago and had forgotten about a few of the really neat and tasty cheeses that we had on promotion for the month of July. The Nobile di Capra was one of those cheeses.
Cheese: Nobile di Capra (also known as Nababbo)
Location: Peghera, a city in the Bergamo province of Italy
Milk: Pasteurized goat's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)
The Nobile di Capra is a washed rind, goat's milk cheese very similar to Taleggio. It is even made in the same region as Taleggio! The milk is produced by a neighboring farm which CasArrigoni takes to create this wonderful cheese. The cheese is formed, washed and aged under the expert eyes of the Arrigoni family.
When brought to room temperature, this cheese is extremely soft. It doesn't ooze or spread all over the table - it instead holds its shape but once you take a bite, it virtually disintegrates on your tongue It is meaty, yeasty, salty and not very goaty or stinky at all. If you've never tried a washed rind cheese or a goat cheese before, this may be a good one to start with. The flavors are very pleasing and the texture is nice and smooth.
There are many wonderful pairings out there for this cheese. Many people recommend white wines (typically Sauvignon Blancs) with goat cheeses, but for this cheese, I went with a red. The bottle we opened was a lovely Tempranillo. It worked well with the cheese because it rounded out the slight end of the barnyard flavor from the wash. While not the best pairing I've ever had, it was pleasant.
Other wines that would work would be Zinfandel or Chenin Blanc. If you're a beer person, a Belgian style Saison or Trappist beer would also be good options.
This cheese is on promotion right now at all Northern California/Reno Whole Foods locations, so be sure to swing by your closest WFM cheese counter and have a taste.
Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!