It’s the year of the goat. Everywhere I turn: goat dinners, goat tacos, goat talk. This means I should let you in on a little secret about Leonora. It’s the most luscious Spanish goat cheese on the planet. The texture is gooey-soft, and it comes in a slightly flattened brick that looks like a melting ice cream cake roll. If you’ve sworn off sweets for Lent, you might want to pick up some Leonora for dessert.
Early spring is the best time to eat goat cheese. That’s because spring grass is most tender, and as the lady goats roam they devour every grass blade and wildflower budlet in sight. The sweetness of these new greens imbues their milk with flavor. A good wedge of Leonora tastes like lemony sunlight.
Leonora comes from a farmstead producer in León, the northernmost province of Spain. Traditionalists will point to France as the seat of goat-cheese glory, but the caprine beauties coming out of Spain these days are getting all of the attention. Montenebro, an ashy young thing from Avila, has also been turning heads.
Don’t let that distract you. For your first spring bite, Leonora should be on the table. Its bloomy rind will remind you of white icing, and its soft center will make you think of, well, more frosting. If you need an after-dinner cheese for the Easter table, Leonora can take down any lamb cake.
Serve this decadent wedge with berries, cherries, honey, or jam. A bread or cracker with some sweetness pairs brilliantly – try ginger thins or even Easter bread. Because this cheese is fairly acidic with a twinge of pepper in the rind, you’ll want a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a Grüner Veltliner – my favorite spring tonic. If you prefer beer, reach for a saison.
For more springtime cheese suggestions, please visit Madame Fromage.