"Our oldest daughter was born 17½ years ago," Ofri Barmor says, "and we started making cheese 17 years ago." The timing is no coincidence: Ms. Barmor and her husband Ofer had discovered that their newborn daughter, Carmel, was lactose-intolerant. Someone mentioned they should give Carmel goat milk. It worked. Not satisfied with the quality of the product they could buy, the couple started making goat cheese at home.
They were living in Israel at the time. By the time they moved to British Columbia in 2003, the Barmors had established a small goat dairy that made 14 to 15 different cheeses. These recipes were packed up and brought to Canada, where the couple opened their new business, Carmelis Goat Cheese. Located near Okanagan Lake, about 12 kilometres south of Kelowna, the company is named for their two daughters, combining the girls' names - Carmel and Lior. Ofer is the cheese maker and Ms. Barmor says she does "everything else: PR, sales, running the business, everything."
Misty and Moonlight are two cheeses that stand out from the pack. Sampled at about five weeks old, both cheeses were perfectly ripe - oozy and luscious around the edges with a smooth, creamy core. Though the cheeses were close to their peak, the rinds were still in great shape: moist and uncracked, with only a hint of bitterness.
Misty is immediately distinctive with its dark ash rind made from kiln-charred root vegetables. The cheese has a mushroomy, yeasty aroma and a nice balance of flavour - salty with a soft tang that leaves a pleasantly long linger.
Moonlight, another soft-ripened cheese, has a soaked grape leaf on top to give it some added tangyness. Inspired by the French AOC goat cheese Banon, which is wrapped in chestnut leaves, Moonlight is smooth and creamy on the palate with mineral notes and a pleasant earthy aroma.
The Barmors were drawn to Canada when the Okanagan Valley caught their eye during a ski trip in 2002. "We saw the wine country and thought, we are cheese makers, it's a perfect match." Ms. Barmor says. Twenty per cent of the goat milk comes from the family's own herd, while the rest is bought from a local organic producer.
Their products range from 18-month-old firm cheeses to fresh chèvres and goat gelato. "The type of cheese we make depends on demand. Usually we make the hard cheeses, which need to age (and can't be sold immediately), in the spring," explains Ms. Barmor. "In the summer we have so many people wanting cheese we can't keep up with the demand, so we make more fresh cheese or more of the soft-ripened cheeses."
Milking season starts in February (when the goats give birth) and ends in early November, when the animals are ready to mate again.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Sue Riedl studied at the Cordon Bleu in London.