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Boutique Goat Cheeses From Idaho

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December 19, 1991|BARBARA HANSEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Karen Ortiz Evans is the only farmstead goat cheese maker in Idaho. Farmstead means that her cheese company, Rollingstone Chevre, is also a licensed goat dairy. Rollingstone makes cheese from the milk of its own goats, rather than buying it.

That's the sort of hands-on approach that Evans favors. Her boutique cheeses have quickly gained a following among " chevre aholics." They range from the traditional log-shaped goat cheeses to flavored tortas --cranberry, for instance--that are ideal for holiday entertaining.

Evans makes French-style \o7 chevre. \f7 She started as a hobbyist 15 years ago and went into commercial production in 1988.

Rollingstone is located at Parma, Idaho, an agricultural area that produces sugar beets, potatoes, flower and vegetable seeds, grains and alfalfa.

Ortiz and her husband, Charles, are partners in the business. She makes the cheeses; he handles marketing and supervises the dairy herd. They distribute the products themselves and take turns doing demos.

There are 100 milkers now, and the herd will grow to 150 in 1992, thanks to the birth of twins and triplets. Cheese production is small. "We pasteurize 250 gallons every three days when in full production," Evans says. In winter, that drops to 250 gallons every five days. (One gallon of milk yields about 3/4 pound cheese.)

Rollingstone specialties available in the Los Angeles area include a jalapeno-flavored \o7 chevre; cabecou de Parma\f7 --a small disk of cheese marinated with hot pepper oil; a Montrachet-style log; herb and black pepper-seasoned cheeses; and fresh curds, known as \o7 fromage blanc de Parma\f7 . The curds are "great on a bagel instead of cream cheese," Evans says.

Fancy party cheeses include a sun-dried tomato and pesto \o7 torta\f7 , another flavored with \o7 fines herbs\f7 and a dessert \o7 torta\f7 that displays a pale pink center flavored with Italian strawberry preserves.

The cheeses may seem rich, but goat cheese is essentially low in fat. The butterfat in Rollingstone products averages less than 4% (it's high at the beginning of lactation, drops in the middle and rises again at the end).

The price of these specialty products is richer than the cheese. Suggested retail for the \o7 tortas\f7 and the cranberry Christmas \o7 chevre \f7 is $15.99 a pound.

Rollingstone cheeses are at Bristol Farms markets and Say Cheese, 2800 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles.

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