Saturday, September 29, 2007

Book Review: The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese

When I saw this book on a table at Barnes and Noble I had to buy it. Being the cheese lover that I am, I was intrigued by what I might learn about goat cheese. I wondered if some of my favorite local cheese makers would be written about in there. On top of the cheese aspect of the book, I was excited to learn more about the dairy goat industry. My family has a 400 acre ranch in Northern California, and my dad (a fellow cheese lover) and I often talk about how great it would be to move up there, raise goats and make cheese. I picked it up and bought the book immediately.

I enjoyed the book, but definitely felt a bit misled by the title. I learned more about the meat-goat industry than I did about making goat cheese and raising dairy goats. The book takes you on the cross country journey of a young NY couple as they try to learn everything there is to learn about goats in order to determine whether or not they want to quit their jobs and move to the country. It was a fun read and I definitely had moments of great envy. If I didn't have a house, two kids and a dog I would be all over my husband to take a similar journey with me. Somehow the thought of taking such a trip with two little boys seems far less romantic.

The only local cheesemaker that is written about extensively in the book was Redwood Hill Farms. They are well known for their goats milk yogurt, which is surprisingly tasty. The day after I finished the book I headed off for my weekly farmer's market shopping trip, and was delighted to see Redwood Hill Farms represented there. I bought a round of Camelia, in my opinion their best cheese. It is similar to a Camembert, one of my all time favorite cheeses! I also bought a little container of fresh chevre. We ate the Camelia with a nice Acme baguette and tomato salad for lunch that afternoon. Perfect!

I would recommend the book if you want a fun read, but don't expect to learn too much about goat cheese. Instead it is more of a well rounded goat education, which is also useful.

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