BiteClub

Goat is good

goat.jpg

Goats have a bad rap. The bulging eyes, their comic book penchant for tin cans and that whole cloven-hooved association with The Dark One. It’s a PR nightmare, really. 
But spend any time with goat people — and by that I mean the rare breed of folks who’ve somehow been captivated by these curious, spirited little creatures — and you can start to understand why much of the rest of the world relies on goats for everything from milk to meat. They’re handy little critters to have around. BiteClub takes a nibble out of the goaty goodness from Sonoma County.

patty.jpgGodmother of Goat Cheese
You can’t talk about goats without mentioning Patty Karlin of Bodega Goat Ranch. “I want to be reincarnated as one of my goats,” says the inimitable Karlin, who’s been an icon of goat farming and goat cheese making since the early 1980s. Karlin is in the midst of converting her 7.5 acre ranch into a self-contained, biodynamic farm complete with sustainable pastures and even healing herbs for her flock of up to 100 goats. She’s best known, however, for her fresh and aged “country” goat milk cheeses (Bodega Artisan Cheese) which she makes onsite in 50-gallon batches throughout the year and distributes to farm markets and restaurants.  Passing along the tradition, her facility has been an incubator for a number of emerging cheesemakers, among them the gals of Bohemian Creamery, who are turning out some high end goat cheeses for local restaurants. 
Ice Cream for everyone
One of the easiest places for goat novices, however, are Laura Howard’s ultra-gourmet goat milk ice creams and frozen yogurts. Studded with brownies, local figs or whatever tickle her fancy, LaLoo’s frozen goat’s milk confections have become the darling of the dessert set after only two years of business. Loaded with protein, probiotics (in the yogurt style) and digestable for lactose intolerant, it’s a less-guilty treat with all the richness. Best bets: Low-fat Rumplemint mint-chocolate chip and Cajeta De Leche frozen yogurt with Mexican caramel and toffee bits. (Available at Whole Foods, Oliver’s and Pacific Market). 
Meaty Matters
Certainly the least-familiar goat product to the general public: goat meat. A staple of many Latin, Indian and Middle Eastern cultures, cooked goat is still a nose-wrinkler for many. The rumor is that it’s gamey, tough and generally unpleasant — and it can be exactly that. Older goats can get a bit funky. But done right, goat meat is a lean, light and delicate meat ideal for grilling or barbecue. 
Tacqueria Los Primos #2 (2227 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, (707) 527-5430) serves up Birria, or barbcued goat, most days in tacos and burritos. It has the texture of dark meat chicken and a lighter flavor than beef.
If you’re a bit more adventurous, wade into goat meat salami or sausage. Nancy Barlas of Barlas Boer Goats in Petaluma pasture-raises the stockier Boer breed of goats which she calls “the ultimate meat goat” and sells her  Butt-N-Head goat salami and sausages online. Her salami tastes like, well, salami. Meaning not at all like goat. In fact, the meat is infused with a bit of pork fat because goat meat is naturally lean — a seventh the fat of beef and and even significantly less calories than chicken and pork.(And it doesn’t taste goaty at all.) 
Down the road, family-run Achadinha Cheese Company, which won a Best In Show award from the American Cheese Society in 2002 for their aged Capricious goat cheese, also sells a killer Hardwood Smoked Summer Sausage made with their “retired” goats each year at Petaluma Market. 
Even more to love
Redwood Hill Farm, a name also synonymous with goat milk and cheese, has a range of products from yogurt to their award-winning Crottin — an earthy, slightly funky French-style cheese. (Available at Whole Foods, Pacific Market, Oliver’s)
Local chefs are getting into the game. Mark Dierkheising of Dierk’s Parkside Cafe is a long-time fan of goat and sometimes has it on the menu, as does Mark Malicki of Cafe Saint Rose. Tamale-master Mateo Granados recently served up goat stomach filled with goat offal to the delight of Sebastopol Farm Market-goers and has several kid goats awaiting possible tamale filling (at the Santa Rosa and Sebastopol Farm Markets). 
If you’re craving a little goat to cook up yourself, Marin Sun Farms is a best bet for fresh cuts of goat. And if you’re still doubting the rise of goat, consider the fact that Bill Niman (formerly of Niman Ranch) has recently gotten into the game with his own herd at BN Ranch in Bolinas and is selling his meat in several San Francisco stores.

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16 thoughts on “Goat is good

  1. The Redwood Hill Farm herd of goats was the first herd in the U.S. to be certified to be raised humanely, which is no small feat. Each goat on the farm is named, roams freely and is fed as nearly an organic diet as can be managed at this time. Through careful breeding, Jennifer Bice and her farm team have created goats of superior genetics that not only produce wonderful milk, have great personalities but also take Best In Show at national competitions. The Redwood Hill Creamery in Sebastopol has an excellent recycling program in place and Jennifer some day hopes to bave the facility powered by a solar power. The Redwood Hill employees are like family and all levels of the workforce have health care and dental benefits plus are paid well for their work. Jennifer Bice cares about her animals, her products, her employees, the environment and her community. Sonoma County is very fortunate to have her. So, if you are thinking of buying some tasty goat cheese, yogurt or kefir — buy LOCALLY and from an employer who cares about the animals and people that produce what you are eating.
    And “no” I’m not Jennifer but I did use to work at Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery. It is truly the real deal.

  2. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten Laura. She clearly put SoCo goat cheese on the map. Just wanted to suss out a few other suspects. Thanks for reminding me!

  3. Don’t forget about Laura Chenel’s Chevre, made in Sonoma Valley for more than 25 years! Another reason Sonoma is on the international map for making great goat cheese.

  4. Patti Karlin, of Bodega Goat Ranch does not mention eating goat…..at all Mary. Have you ever Been to Bodegs Bay??? If you were lucky enough to live out on the pasture there and never be eaten, then yes I would like to be reincarnated as one of her goats. They have a better life than us. No daily 101 traffic to and from work, no cell phones, no KIDS…..(little joke) anyway…..read the article thorougly before you judge, or perhaps just read it.

  5. Last week we spent a couple of days in Inverness for our anniversary. By happenstance the Sunday before we left the Chronicle had a rave review of Osteria Stilline in Point Reyes Station. We got a reservation and were very pleased. Overall the food was interesting and when not great tasting, it was something I’d never had before, e.g. sieved quail eggs.
    The goat shoulder with polenta was well reviewed so I tried it. Wonderful. It had been awhile since I’ve had birria and this reminded me of how good it can be. There is a unique taste to goat that I quite like. I think I’ll be checking out some of the above recommendations.

  6. meat animals are treated well til the end? That can be debated…check out factory farm clips on youtube….and what happens at the end….the goats are hog-tied, hung upside down, and their throats are slit while they cry out in pain….dead animals are not food…all animals goats, pigs, cows, dogs, cats, etc…have feelings, individual personalities, self-interest and a soul……you are taking this away with your fork….

  7. OK, so lets let them run in the street like many dog owner Do. Instead of making them useful. YES they are neat creatures, but each animal serves a purpose . Meat animals are treated well until the end ,otherwise the end product would not be quality. Goat meat is the number 1 meat consumed in the WORLD

  8. Yes they do make great pets but are good red meat less fat resulting in less cholestrol even less then skinless chicken. Goats milk is easier to digest then cow milk. the problem with the USA is we think we don’t eat pets where other places in the world does not have these feelings. The taste of the meat can be inflenced by what they eat. Those that are out on browse can taste more like deer while those that eat like cows will taste more like beef.

  9. Automatic disqualification for saying “shame on…”
    It’s already been established that I have none.

  10. Gee, maybe when Patty Karlin is reincarnated at a goat (as she hopes), she’ll end up as someone’s main course.

  11. Patty,,,I agree…Please don’t eat goats….they are like my dogs….they follow me around the property….they hug and kiss….they are wonderful….they have a deep soul and adventurous spirit..I rescued my two boys and bottle fed them ..they were cast off from the goat dairy industry…baby boys are killed for meat or left to die since they don’t produce milk and female goats are constantly impregnated to produce milk..

  12. I myself, could not imagine eating goat meat after having them as pets. They have a personality of their own- like teenagers- they’re stubborn, smart and want- and they let you know it. I often take walks with my goats out in the pasture, and couldn’t imangine eating one of these beautiful creatures.
    I have to keep a special lookout during cingo de mayo- one of my favorite goats was stolen.Imagine having your dog stolen and eaten for meat?

  13. I had the great pleasure of eating delicious birria(roasted goat meat) at the wonderful Guadalajara mercado publico. Located upstairs from the main market,in the fondas(market food stalls), this place marked itself with goat horns so as to distinguish their offerings from other meats. The birria was always very tender,spicy and served joyously by singing cooks! I look forward to tasting good birria in Sonoma county.

  14. I had goat often on a trip to Portugal many years ago. My favorite preparation was grilling the small delicate chops on an open wood fire. I was surprised how delicious they were. More mild than lamb! As for LaLoo’s – love that stuff!

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