A Word on Curd: Noble Springs Feta
Welcome to "A Word on Curd!" Each month, we'll use this space to share some of our favorite cheeses. We spend all day melting up the good stuff, but our turophilia doesn't end there. We're curd nerds through and through and you'll often find us snacking on some queso even when we're not behind the melts line. Check back here every month to find out what cheeses are stinkin' up our fridge.
Ah, Feta. What a cheese! What a history! But did you know you could find great, American made feta, right here in Tennessee? feta has a long history in Greece, with its origins in the 8th century B.C.. While feta is made in a similar fashion to many other kinds of cheese, it is distinguished by the long brine that it endures while it ages. This brine is made mostly of salt and water and was originally used to extend the life of the cheese. Through the miracle that is refrigeration, the brining process is no longer necessary for its original purpose. However, the flavor that it imparts has become such a huge part of feta's flavor profile, it would be a sin not to include this critical step.
Noble Springs, a local goat dairy and creamery, is located right outside of Franklin in the bucolic hills of Leiper's Fork, Tennessee. Dustin & Justyne Noble met several years ago, and their love of all things goat is not only what brought them together as a couple, but is the driving force behind their business.
Historically, Tennessee has not been know as a major player in the artisanal cheese movement sweeping the nation, and it's safe to say that Dustin and Justine are the pioneers here in the Middle Tennessee area. Herding goats is not easy work, and taking liquid milk and transforming it into cheese presents even more challenges. But Dustin and Justyne knew that the milk they were producing on their farm (which happens to be part of the Tennessee Land Trust, meaning this land has some serious heritage behind it,) was incredibly high quality. They could have taken the easy route and simply sold their liquid goat milk in bulk to a consolidator, but they knew that what they had was just too special.
Over the last few years, the Nobles have developed a truly fine line of products. From their creamy and tangy fresh Chèvre (or fresh goat cheese) to the mushroomy and earthy qualities of Harpeth Fleur (a bloomy rind cheese, similar to Brie,) these cheeses are made with not only great Tennessee goats milk, but also contain a healthy dose of Tennessee pride.
The feta, which is also made exclusively of goats milk, is one of our all-time favorites. While it's not uncommon to find sheep milk, cows milk, or even sheep and goat milk blend feta's in the grocery store, 100% goat milk feta can be a bit more elusive. There are other differences between this feta and what you'd normally pick up from the store. The flavor, while not drastically different, is definitely more nuanced. Most grocery store fetas are very salty and tangy. Noble's feta is no different, but expect more lemon and earthy flavors. Also, you'll find the texture is slightly different. Because this feta is not just made with brine but also stored in it, Noble's feta tends to have a bit more moisture, which we love. When it came time to find a good feta for our "Greek Beet Salad," we knew the moment we tried Noble Springs product that it was the one for us.
Obviously, this stuff is great crumbled up in a salad. But, if you're looking to enjoy this feta on a cheese board, we suggest pairing it with a nice honey. The sweet flavors of honey tend to tamper some of the more briny qualities of feta and make this an excellent after dinner treat or fancy snack. If you want to keep things traditional, a nice Greek Olive Mix pairs well, and if you're looking for a nice wine, we suggests a dry and fruity Greek white. Click here to find a store where you can find Noble Springs products!