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An evening with the goats


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Spending an evening with the goats:

March 18th 2005.

There is nothing inn life that could prepare you for things like that.

A cool clear Friday night drives us an hour from the city of Haifa to the foothills of the Gilboa mountain for an evening with Israel’s best dairy producer – Barkanit. Three members of the Brakin family, owners of the dairy farm, greet us promptly to begin an elevating evening with some wines I had brought with me:

Swiss style Brie accompanied by Sauvignon Blanc Framingham, Marlborough 2001:

A young soft Brie with a gentle texture and an adequately firm rind melted on the tongue with constant and balanced flavors. As the wine entered the mouth, the cheese’s mildly creamy texture was properly balanced with the Framingham’s acidity. Typical New Zealand fruity and grassy flavors dominated the aftertaste suggesting the four-week-old bride was perhaps too young for this match. Two more weeks and the marriage would have been better suited. Still enjoyed very match.

Saint-Maure accompanied by Chenin Blanc Hertzog, California 2002.

One of Barkanits most popular cheeses locally produced without the famous straw that runs through its heart [ Touraine style ]. Although young, the soft velvety flavors are complex enough to earn a gold medal. The mild sweetness of the Chenin with its perfectly balanced acidity, accompanied the cheese without adding complexity but with manners of a perfect host.

Saint-Maure Noir accompanied by Sauvignon Blanc Swartland RSA 2002.

The darker colors of the charcoal powder coating this Saint-Maure continued with darker moving towards brighter cream colors indicating the penetration of the mould and the aging of the cheese. Dominant classic “chevre” flavors accompanied by sharp acidity mellowed down when joined by the Sauvignon. Swartland’s hot climate produced a wine fruity enough with an almost oily texture to balance the cheese’s acidity with a nice combination of both that was eventually dominated by the Noir.

A wine with a higher acidity would have produced even better results although I wouldn’t mind this combination on any given day.

Turquiz accompanied by Chardonnay Monterra, Monterey 1998.

Jackpot! Perfect balance.

The truth is – who wants perfect?

The creamy texture of the goat and sheep cheese with the California walnuts on top, resembled the cheese of Roquefort without the blue mold. The aromas and flavors of the cheese with the Chardonnay merged into a soft smooth mild gastronomical creation with little relation to either origin.

A younger and more acidic wine would have resulted in the sharpening of the cheese’s flavors without overpowering the Turquiz’s well-balanced flavors.

Selles-Sur-Cher accompanied by Beaujolait Nouveau Albert Bichot 2004

The combination reminds me of the movie Melena where goddess Monica Belluci is being courted by the ugly lawyer after he had won her trial.

What could be an appropriate accompaniment to a mature, complex and dominant cheese in a manner that makes our mouth drool? A slave.

A slave is the term used for those meant to fill in gaps and being dominated by their partner. The simplicity of the Beaujolais was stormed by the royal cheese from the town of Selles over the river Cher. A live to tell. The gentle texture of the cheese exploded in an array of flavors in the back of the mouth in a manner reserved but for the highest gastronomical experience. The wine rinsed the mouth every once in a while allowing the phenomena to repeat itself.

At this stage we felt comfortable enough to mingle with the crowd staring at us outside the front window. We were greeted with much enthusiasm and head banging. No worries mate – they radiated. Smart animal, nodded Mr. Brakin that seems to appreciate them more and more with every year of his 30 spring s experience that passes.

“What do you do with the males? Grill?” Winked one of our own.

“Barbecue” corrected Mr. Brakin and made the wine enriched laugh.

“Back to work”.

Avyron accompanied by Cotes-du-Ventoux Luis Bernard 2002.

Barkanits only pure sheep cheese was enthusiastically received. The rich creamy texture of the cheese was sharply interfered by Luis Bernards’ Domaine Les Herbes Blanches [amongst my favorite Ventoux wines]. The “Herbes Blanches” added just the right amount of seasoning to a more complex and beautifully balanced finish.


California accompanied by Cote-du-Rhone Maison Sichel 2002.

The rind of the California coated with the walnuts provided some sharp flavors to this semi-hard cheese. The wines rough edges and dry style produced a consistent frame with a good backbone acidity. The cheese’s untamed flavors co-operated with the wines serious attitude.

A Smooth and pleasurable marriage.

Manchego accompanied by Tzora cuvee Irini 1996.

The greatness of being above derives from modesty. Reserved giants time had been kind to. A six to eight month Manchego that had undergone professional affinage. Complex and gentle flavor slowly developed on the palate, comme il faut, when the nine-year-old Tzora hulk with its complex layers of dried fruits, fresh herbs and soft spice mingled to elevate the experience one bit higher.

Flavors continued to develop as long as enjoyed reaching heights reserved for the simplest yet top gourmet experience.

Masterpieces that merged into an uplifting experiece.

Saint Marcellin accompanied by Cotes-du-Rhone Grand Reserve Luis Bernard 2000.

The first signs of spring around the Green Gilboa Mountain supplied the food for the staring goats around our dining room. A young cheese with fresh green and aromatic flavors of grass and herbs expressed these first signs of spring. The powerful and complex Grande Reserve swept this young cheese off its feet and drowned whatever gentle flavors it possessed. The deep complex flavors of spice and forest fruits dominated the scene thoroughly.

That young cheese may stand a chance some 4-5 weeks from now.

Corsika accompanied by Muscatto di Asti Nivolle, Michelle Chiarlo 2004.

The cheese spilled from the dark gray towards lighter gray rind the moment the knife applied the slightest pressure. A fully ripe cheese capturing those rare moments of what one may aspire to when aging cheese. Knowing such moments do not last, made the situation even more appealing. The cheese was enjoyed on its own with the almost sweet creamy texture being scrubbed of the plate fearing to shorten the moment. The Nivole signed the event with a sweet gentle Frizzante texture that drew some more smiles out of the already happy bunch.

Thousands of stars and half a moon shed some light over mount Gilboa and on our way back.

Perfect things would never be termed perfect if it was not for the things missing in our daily lives.

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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