Cheese, that is. I’m writing this because every other day Rafa asks if I wrote about the goat cheese we bought on Irazu. After the Irazu Challenge, we motored down the volcano stopping at roadside stands to pick up goodies for the week. In all honesty, if you can do this, it is cheaper and fresher.
Now I have ruminated (Get it! Ruminate!…sorry biology joke) about the cows and dairy, but what there is an amazing lack of sheep and goats. Lamb is pretty much non-existent in the markets and I would say there are more goats on the Caribbean side, but for the most part, you don’t see a lot around. So imagine my surprise when we stopped for some palmetto cheese, the woman recommended her goat cheese. Even Rafa was shocked and then immediately began to drool, since I have been known to rock out some seriously scrumptious goat cheese and spinach omelets. The woman offered a sample to both us and our eyes widen. It was ambrosial.
The farm I worked on in my youth had goats. They are silly creatures. Where as all the other animals on the farm had a very distinct purpose, the goats just seemed to wander around and eat everything. The does were nice and rather friendly but the buck, on the other hand, was a real dick. Since I was about 10, I was probably half of the size I am now and that buck was huge. We seriously stood eye to eye. I don’t know what set him off but he had it in for me. Everybody else thought it was funny to see hoof marks on my back, but that sucker was vicious. I came in early one morning and he was loose. It was a standoff equivalent to a Clint Eastwood movie. I can still hear the music whistling in my mind. Sure I could have backed out of the barn and waited for someone else to arrive but I had work to do, so I stood my ground. We eye balled each other for what seemed like eternity until he finally pawed the ground and charged. Now I mark this as a very formative period in my limited existence. Normally, a quiet, submissive child…that day, I wasn’t putting up with any shit. Staring down a charging billy-goat, horns and all, I grabbed the closest thing: a big flat manure shovel and broadsided that mean ass goat on the side of his head. Now I am not a proponent of animal cruelty by any means, but farm work is not rainbows and daisy chains either. Just because you are the one with opposable thumbs doesn’t mean you won’t get fucked with. The gong of shovel to horns reverberated through the barn and everything went still. I was small but months of shoveling shit gave me a good swing, but it honestly did nothing to him other than stop him in his tracks. He looked at me, turned away and never bothered me again.
I have eaten goat…drunk on Ouzo at the Hellenic Festival…and it wasn’t bad. Widely eaten all over the globe, but less so in the North America, it is leaner than chicken and has more protein than beef. I have never cooked goat (also known as cabrito or chevon), …yet, but I have read there is a fatty membrane known as caul around the meat that needs a good sharp knife to trim away and that since it is so lean, it should be braised or cooked with a liquid. Our plan is to eventually move to the Caribbean side. Rafa and I toyed with the idea of having some critters for consumption and goats are good for meat and cheese. Granted, Rafa has a more romantic notion of farming than I do…this coming from the man who was traumatized by the run over, half dead possum in the road, “I’m gonna have NIGHTMARES!” I see a lot of the rough stuff handled by yours truly. I have a friend stateside who is doing the very thing I wish to do down here and I admire her drive for the family, farm, sustainable life. We’re getting there.
We did buy a container of herbed goat cheese. If you want to find her, make your way up Irazu route 219, not too far. Certainly before San Juan de Chicua. She is on a bend along side some other produce farmers. I can’t say there is any other marker or feature to guide you, but it is worth the trek.
As for the goats on the farm…they were sold to a Greek family. Karma is a kabab.