New and Noteworthy
CKC Farms' farm-fresh goat cheese
Goats are one of the few things that can be raised successfully in Central Texas, where scanty limestone soils and drought render much of the land unfit for agriculture. There have been goat-ranching operations around here since before the Civil War; if you live in Northwest Austin or near Lake Travis, your property was a goat farm not so long ago.
As Texans have become more cosmopolitan about food, Austin has seen the emergence of local goat-cheese dairies. One new dairy gaining national attention is CKC Farms in Blanco (17505 FM 32, 830/833-5669). Recently profiled on the Bon Appétit/Gourmet Web site, CKC Farms is a small operation with 46 goats, founded by 18-year-old Chrissy Omo. I am sure Omo is weary of people going on and on about her age, but come on: Such an accomplishment at 18 is pretty impressive! Omo, a freshman at Texas State, became interested in dairy goats and goat cheeses in her early teens when her family was living in Germany. Arriving back in Blanco, she got funding from her folks and set up shop. Omo gets up at dawn, milks the goats, makes the cheeses, and goes to college in between tasks, with help from family members as needed.
CKC makes a full line of goat cheeses, and all of them are top flight. The chèvre (that's the soft, round, patty-cake kind) comes in three varieties: plain, herbed, and "midnight" (which means it's pressed in edible charcoal). The texture of the chèvre is dense and dreamy, and the flavor is surpassingly mild, pairing more easily with fruit than other local chèvres. The baby caprino is a ripened, soft goat cheese rather like Brie but sharper and more full-bodied. The baby bleu cheese is strikingly marbled, with a vigorous depth of flavor. CKC also makes two kinds of feta: beautiful jars of feta marinating in olive oil and herbs and smaller, more prosaic plastic containers of feta in brine. The feta is extremely firm and salty and is mild without being bland. All of CKC's cheeses are exclusively carried by P&K Grocery at 915 W. Mary.