Continuing down our Girl and the Fig cheese plate, I really enjoyed the Queso de Mano goat cheese, from Jim Schott’s award-winning Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy in Niwot, Colorado. This is a superb raw-milk cheese — it has a wonderful, prominent, goat taste that is slightly sweet, and carries with it an undertone of nuttiness, as well as a hint of its farmstead grass and herbs. All that makes it terrifically complex and interesting, especially if you love goat-milk cheeses, as I do.
The Queso de Mano also manages to combine a firm texture with a velvety mouth feel. The cheese is aged four months and has a natural washed rind. It would be great with toasted almonds, fresh cherries or apricots, and a good fruity red wine.
For a long time, Haystack Mountain was the last remaining dairy in Boulder County. Sadly, local and other business expenses forced the company to sell its goats to the State Prison in Canon City, Colorado, which has operated an inmate-run dairy for 70 years. The upshot, though, is that the company is still producing and distributing its fabulous cheese from its headquarters in Longmont, Colorado, inmates at Canon City are doing fruitful work and learning a skill, and the Nubian, LaMancha, Sanaan and Nubian Cross goats are continuing to thrive and produce the milk that goes into Haystack Mountain’s cheeses.
The Queso de Mano is the second cheese from the right:
Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman