From the name alone you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m eating a Spanish number this week, maybe also nibbling on some Ibérico ham and washing it all down with a glass of Rioja. But in fact, Pablo Cabrito, a soft unpasteurised goat’s cheese, hails from the sultry climes of Shropshire.
I have a bit of a soft spot for goats. I grew up on a farm but always found sheep a bit dull once they grew past the cute lamb phase. Cows were okay but after a nasty run-in with a herd of post-natal Friesians and a barbed wire fence, they were off the Christmas card list. Goats though have always seemed both full of character and infinitely practical. I used to write about goats for a living so could bore on for several pages about their virtues and even reproduce some rather fetching pictures of me wearing combat trousers and petting a pony-sized Toggenburg…but, hey, onto the cheese.
Pablo Cabrito is a very pretty cheese, log-shaped with a white interior and a dappled ash coating. Here it is:
It’s made at Brockhall Farm from the milk of the largest herd of Pure Saanen goats in the UK. From two Pure Saanens just over a decade ago, there are now 100 goats on the farm. But if this conjures up images of industrial farming, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The goats are free-range, nibbling on whatever they choose, and are known as individuals by bleat and name (named after advertising fonts, nannies like Ronda, Romano, Pookie and Talula have names quirky and cute enough to grace any Nappy Valley playground). The cheese is made on the same site and so the milk travels only a few metres from the milking parlour to the dairy, retaining its freshness.
Inside, the cheese is as snowy white as the pretty goats that make it but the outside is a marbled grey, as the cheese is rolled in ash. Many soft goat’s cheeses are traditionally rolled in ash as its alkalinity helps to neutralize the natural acicidity of the cheese which can inhibit ripening, although these days it can be as much for the aesthetics.
I cut a slice to taste and braced myself for a full-on goaty tastebud assault (which I don’t actually mind) but the Pablo Cabrito is not a goaty cheese at all. Its taste is fresh and almost citrusy, with a slight aftertaste of herbs and barely a hint of the animals that make it at all. It’s incredibly moreish. I imagine it would be a delight to cook with – mixed through some garlicky mushrooms or blobs of it floating in a frittata – but I couldn’t tell you as I’ve scoffed it all already.
Oh – and I had to take a picture of the packaging, strange as that sounds. The Brockhall Farm cheeses are all inspired in name and design by great artists and the artwork is as exquisite as the cheese: