“Goats cheese chose us, really” says Em Hunt, third-year law student, and one of the three founding members of The Goats Cheese Appreciation Society. Fellow members Caitlin Rozario and Libby Gerrard (Geography and English students at Queens’) nod in agreement. “It’s more about a chance for us to get together and eat good food in nice company. We realised that we’re always talking about food, and thought we’d make something of it."
After realising that they were united by their shared love of goats cheese, it seemed natural for the three friends to make something of their love of food. Goats cheese was a happy alternative to meat for pescetarian Em and vegetarian Caitlin, and is also high in calcium. Thus, an Instagram account was born, and a society of appreciation that takes the Cambridge society obsession with a slight pinch of salt (pun intended). The group meets weekly, taking minutes, sharing recipes, facts and tasters with other students.
Caitlin, Libby and Em are keen to spread the word about goats cheese, and encourage people to come along and have a taste. The recipes, pictures and ideas are collated in a huge scrapbook, and there are plans for a blog too, although looming finals have meant that they’ve had to put that on the back burner for now. I ask whether the scrapbook could be turned into a cookbook, and they smile wistfully. “That’s the dream” admits Libby, but it would need a fair amount of modification and tidying up.
A major event last term was a cheese and wine evening, where the girls showcased their beautiful cooking and cheese. The Society’s presence on social media has elicited a fair amount of interest, and has yielded gifts too – for the Come Dine With Me Cambridge Edition, St. Helen’s farm in Yorkshire sent over a gigantic hamper of goats products. The three used the milk, butter and cheese for the culinary delight of the guests, getting creative and making chocolate (goats milk) milkshakes, and even trying goats milk lollies, which were apparently surprisingly delicious.
Meals are hosted in a bedroom, with a few desks pushed together and handsomely set. Em, Libby and Caitlin take it in turns to host, cook and prepare the dishes. They are aware of the importance of scheduling – Em’s favourite goats cheese accompaniment is home-made caramelized onions, so when it’s her turn, she starts caramelizing in the morning…However, Queens’ lack of kitchen space and ovens complicates things, although you wouldn’t know it from the pictures!
Future plans are not set in stone, but it’s clear that the goats cheese girls won’t give up their appreciation of food and goats cheese. As Caitlin says, “We’re not professionals but we’re really keen”.
For those out there interested in trying out some of the Society’s recipes, the GCAS’s favourite shop is Marks and Spencer for goats cheese, where they particularly like the versions that include garlic, peppercorns and red onions. Sainsbury’s doesn’t quite meet the standards of M&S but has a good ash-rolled cheese, which is a little cheaper.
Libby, Em and Caitlin’s final advice for readers is to eat your goats cheese with figs, caramelized onions, in a tart with puff pastry (but don’t bother to make your own), in a lasagne, but most importantly with a balsamic glaze.
To meet such friendly students investing in something different and interesting (and delicious) was inspiring. I suggest you join the goats cheese hype, creep on the Instagram account here, or email them for recipe ideas and business propositions.