Some of the nation's finest goat cheese is produced on an 80-acre farm in Greenville, Indiana. From the rich goat milk of a 500-strong herd comes Capriole cheeses, which have grabbed honors at national competitions and impressed maitre fromagers for their texture and distinctive, rich taste.
For the past 20 years, Capriole has been the all-consuming work and love of Judy Schad, milkmaid and cheese mogul. "What limestone does for Kentucky bourbon, it also does for my goat milk," Judy says. "The limestone base makes for sweet grasses, alfalfa and clover -- and more flavorful cheese."
In Goat Cheese and Roasted Beet Salad (left), the intense flavor of beets blends with goat cheese. "You have to love that earthy, rich flavor" of beets, says Judy. "If so, you'll find it was simply meant to pair with goat cheese."
Sweet and tart contrast in this creamy, sharp goat cheese appetizer from Judy Schad. It looks elegant, but it's easy to make.
Chevre (the French word for all goat-milk cheeses) can range from delicately aromatic to robustly sharp and acid. Goat milk gives cheese a texture and flavor that is "most memorable," Judy says.
Consumption of goat cheese has grown, but still is only 1 percent of the total cheese market -- which is incredible to Judy. "For me, the textural difference is huge," she says. "You can get a rich, full-flavored cheese that's still light and fine."
"I like serving this tart with mixed salad greens or sliced, garden-ripe tomatoes," Judy Schad says.
Judy is such a fan of goat cheese that she uses it in almost any recipe calling for ricotta or cream cheese. "It poufs up like a soufflé . It gives lift to almost all egg-and-cheese dishes. It complements both savory and sweet dishes, and is amazing in mashed potatoes or as the base for cheesecake," she says.
This recipe, from the Chopping Block cooking school in Chicago, is a fast-fix mixture of pasta, goat cheese and vegetables. Serve with Italian bread and Pear Caramel with Ice Cream for a complete quick-and-easy dinner.
This Asian-inspired pizza is topped with goat cheese, chopped red potatoes, onion, zucchini, chile peppers and garlic. Even more flavor comes from a sprinkling of fresh cilantro, mint, ginger and an Asian spice mix.
Like your pizza a little more traditional? Try Roasted Garlic and Tomato Pizza. Garlic roasted in olive oil forms the base for this dish. Tomato slices, olives, goat cheese or mozzarella cheese and fresh basil complete the recipe.
Assorted tomatoes add a splash of color and freshness to this puff pastry tart appetizer. The pastry can be made ahead, then topped and baked at the last minute.
This pale orange, chowderlike soup gets a sprinkle of goat-cheese croutons in a recipe from Oakleys Bistro in Indianapolis. The soup is loaded with vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, leeks, sweet peppers and tomatoes.
Ratatouille Bisque 
Chicken is stuffed with a colorful mix of tomatoes, mushrooms, pine nuts and goat cheese or feta cheese in this recipe from the DeSoto House Hotel in Galena, Illinois. A rich cream sauce tops the chicken.
"I think the answer starts with the uniqueness of the milk," says Judy Schad of Capriole Farmstead Goat Cheeses in Greenville, Indiana. Here's a list of reasons she thinks people love goat cheese:
Texture: Goat cheese has a fine, velvety texture because the fat globules are much smaller than the ones in cow's milk.
Less Lactose: Goat's milk contains only trace amounts of Alpha S1 casein, the major protein in cow's milk, which can pose a problem for people who are lactose intolerant.
Healthful: Compared with cow's milk, goat's milk has 13 percent more calcium, 25 percent more Vitamin B6 and 47 percent more Vitamin A.
Flavorful: Like sheep and cow's milk cheeses, goat's milk cheese gets a more pronounced flavor as it ages. If it's warmed or toasted, goat's milk cheese explodes with flavor, Judy says.
Creating a French-style cheese from the Midwest doesn't seem quirky to Judy Schad. "I was called to do this and to live this way," she says.
Goat herding and cheese making are provincial arts, she says. "I grew up right around here in New Albany and lived all my life in southern Indiana," she says. "My grandparents worked a farm, and we always had fresh milk, homemade cottage cheese and eggs. We cooked with whatever we had on hand."
Judy's husband, Larry -- an attorney and New Albany native -- found the farm for Judy, who abandoned a Ph.D. in Renaissance literature in 1977 for earth, sky and fresh milk.
From a single Alpine goat named Tea Rose, now immortalized on Capriole's colorful logo, Judy has grown her herd with the queens of the mild producers: Alpines, flop-eared Nubians and alabaster Saanens. Throughout the year, pens full of bawling baby goats keep the herd replenished and the does lactating.
Twice-daily milking produces more than 200 gallons of milk. Most of the farm's production sells as fresh cheese. Some cheese is rolled in herbs or mixed with pine nuts or sun-dried tomatoes.
Many customers find the handful of aged cheeses (which spend at least two months in cool, stainless-steel "caves") most interesting in terms of flavor and texture. Wrapped in bourbon-soaked chestnut leaves, the O'Banon, an aged cheese named in honor of Indiana's beloved, late governor, Frank O'Bannon, wins the most rave reviews.
Judy's favorite of the dozen or so Capriole cheeses is called Sofia, which is ripened about five days, leaving it mild but flavorful. She uses it as a salad cheese and an accompaniment to a crisp wine.
"Cheese is 95-percent milk. It's the quality and the flavor of the milk that makes our cheese what it is," Judy says. "And then there's something else." She waves an arm over the rolling pastures. "It's the terroir, a French word for the mystique of the land. It means a special sense of place, and that's what I feel here every day."
Capriole cheeses are available from the farm's website or at selected cheese shops and specialty food shops such as Whole Foods.
(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® March/April 2007.)
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