If you walk past Greenpoint’s cheesemonger/gourmet deli/beer paradise Eastern District (1053 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn), the first thing you’ll notice are the goats. “We’re having a feature on chèvre right now,” explains co-owner Chris Gray. “And luckily, Libby was up to the challenge of drawing them.” The goats, that is, which adorn the windows.
“I’m a cheesemonger-slash-illustrator,” explains Libby Vander Ploeg, “so it was pretty natural for me to do the window art. I just wanted to draw something fun. It adds a pop of color to the block.”
“We do sell goat’s-milk cheeses all year round,” notes Beth Lewand, the other co-owner, who set up the shop in 2010, “but many of our smaller cheesemakers have a bit of a goat’s-milk drought in the winter months, when the does are producing less milk. In March and April they begin kidding, and with all the adorable new baby goats comes a fresh supply and surplus of goat’s milk. So this month we’re getting in lots of cheeses that we’ve been missing lately, including Lake’s Edge from Blue Ledge Farm in Vermont and Pearl from Seal Cove Farm in Maine.”
“There’s quite a range of species of goat in America that are milked for cheese,” says Vander Ploeg. “The most popular one is the Nubian, then the Alpine, the Saanen, the Toggenburg, and the LaMancha…they all make different cheeses.”
She reaches into the chiller to bring out milky rounds.
“I really love the Midnight Moon. It’s a Californian cheese by Cypress Grove’s Mary Keehn [maker of the iconic Humboldt Fog],” she says. “We were doing a series last month on women cheesemakers, and I was actually quite surprised at how many of these women are making goat cheeses. This one is mild — everyone likes it. It’s not very goat-y, but it is really sweet and fragrant, with a nutty flavor.”
Don’t miss the St. Johnsville, made in the Loire style from Alpine goats’ milk by Patric Apfel at Cochran Farm in Mohawk Valley, New York, or the Snow Camp, from the Goat Lady Dairy, a small, compact round with a bloomy rind and a dense, creamy bite.