We had some special visitors a few weeks ago at The Café, my sister Marlene and her husband, John. Scott and I were thrilled, as we live too many miles apart and sadly, don't get to see each other nearly often enough.
I wanted to plan something fun and unique for their short time with us ............... something that would show them the beauty of North Carolina at this glorious time of the year and allow us to enjoy each other's company at the same time ...........
............... I'd heard that there were some interesting goat farms in the fairly near vicinity and, after a bit of research and a few phone calls, I was able to make an arrangement for a tour.
The day turned out bright, warm and sunny with lovely hues of vibrant spring green bursting out here, there and everywhere as we set out on our adventure. The sky was a brilliant clear Carolina blue (that's what we call the prettiest, clearest skies here) and we wound our way up hill and down dale through the lovely countryside. About forty minutes minutes later, we found ourselves driving down the road leading to the Elodie Goat Farm.
A large, picturesque field dotted with muli-colored nanny goats (females), lazily feeding at the far end greeted us as we pulled in. We called to them, trying to coerce at least a few into coming close, but to no avail ................ then along came Dave, the owner and proprietor of Elodie Farm, to greet us. "Would you like me to call them?"We responded, "Yes, please!". Two words in a sing-songy voice, that's all it took. "Here goat!" was all he had to say and they came running, leaving us "city-slickers" dumbfounded.
We spent a delightful two hours touring the charming farm; from the kitchen where the cheese is made (every kind of goat cheese you can imagine) to the milking house, the "birth center" and the picturesque, historic farmhouse where local chefs from some of the finest area restaurants prepare fabulous goat cheese-themed dinners for guests from near and far.
I never really thought I would use the word "beautiful" to describe pigs and chickens, but we saw beautiful plump, happy pigs in shades of gray and black, grazing in the warm sunshine, unaware or uninterested in the citified visitors who found them quite captivating. A plethora of chickens in an array of gorgeous colors and textures pecked merrily away as if they were savoring the beautiful spring day after a long, cold winter.
At the conclusion of a great tour, Dave handed us two small paper sacks. Peeking inside I was thrilled to find two logs of his creamy Chévre and a container of goat cheese Feta. I could hardly wait to get home....... my imagination was already whirring.
When we got back to the car, we noticed that, again, the goats had meandered to the far end of the pasture and were relaxing in the early afternoon shade. My sister and I were quite positive that, after our extensive tour, we'd surely be a bit more successful in calling the goats over to us, for one last goodbye. After all, we'd heard exactly how it's done. "Here goat!", "Here goat!", "HERE GOAT!" we yelled (literally at the top of our lungs) ................. not even a blink of an eye in acknowledgement came from these fuzzy, four-footed females! We might as well have been chopped liver as far as they were concerned .................... oh well, as they say, some things are just better left to the experts!
That evening, I fixed a simple salad to go with our dinner and scattered it with a bit of my prized Elodie Farm Chévre. Oh my! It was amazing, unlike any goat cheese I've purchased, even at the gourmet market. It's smooth, creamy and mild, with a melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. We savored every bite!
I decided to do something fun with the rest of my loot. I let the delicious, creamy cheese star in this wonderful Rosemary and Lemon Goat Cheese Tart
With a simple puff pastry crust, lots of red and yellow cherry tomatoes, fresh eggs and a generous splash of half and half. I knew I had a hit when my husband (and chief taste-tester) declared that this one is on his list of top-five favorite dishes. Wow, that was a super compliment!
This yummy tart would be perfect for breakfast, brunch or dinner. I served it with a simple arugula salad with a lemon/shallot vinaigrette for lunch one day and we were thrilled to have the leftovers for dinner the following evening.
This Rosemary and Lemon Goat Cheese Tart would also be wonderful with seasonal fruit and freshly baked muffins (perfect for Mother's Day!). It's light, yet filling and bursting with delicious flavor. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it became a favorite at your house too!
P.S. Oh and if you live anywhere nearby, I'd highly encourage you to visit the Elodie Goat Farm! You can check out the website for details. Dave and his wonderful array of fine Elodie Farm Goat Cheeses can also be found at the Durham Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
- ½ 17 ½ ounce package puff pastry** 1 sheet, thawed according to package directions
- 1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes
- 1 pint red cherry tomatoes
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup half and half
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons fresh finely chopped rosemary
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 4 ounces goat cheese
Preheat oven to 425°F. Roll puff pastry to an approximately 13-inch square. Transfer to 11-inch diameter tart pan with a removable bottom*. Trim edges and place in freezer for at least, 15 minutes**.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, half-and-half, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, salt and a generous grind or pinch of pepper. Whisk to combine. Add parmesan cheese and whisk again.
Remove tart shell from the freezer. Add both types of cherry tomatoes to tart shell. Pour egg mixture over tomatoes and dot evenly with goat cheese.
Place tart in preheated oven and bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 25 -30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped rosemary and other herbs, if desired
~ *If your tart pan is smaller than 11 inches, roll puff pastry out accordingly. You may not need all of the filling, just fill to within a quarter inch of the top. Tart can also be made in a ceramic quiche pan or a glass pie dish. Roll out puff pastry to fit pan with slight overhang for trimming and fill to within a quarter inch of the top
~ ** The only secret to working with puff pastry is to keep it cold. Thaw it only till it's soft enough to roll. Returning it to the freezer after you've assembled your tart will also help it perform well.