Goats (and Sheep) Do Roam









Last weekend we went to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Before any of you make any smart-alecky comments like, “Why???”, or, “Is there something I don’t know about you?”, let me explain.

No, I am not interested in animal husbandry, nor do I have a secret sheep shearing hobby. Simply put, animals are one more participant in the farmers’ market experience, usually as the donor of wool, meat, milk, or eggs. Someone we don’t usually get to meet.

Besides, they are terribly cute, sometimes to the point of grotesqueness:

The Festival, one of the biggest of its kind in the US, is not just about the sheep to shawl contests, showcasing hundreds of breeds, or working sheep dog demonstrations (which are pretty cool, by the way).

It is also about fantastic locally produced food, be it lamb, goat milk products, or sheep’s milk cheeses. A large variety of local farmstead meats and meat products were available for purchase, or immediate consumption (tasty lamb burgers, barbecued lamb ribs, grilled lamb, 100% lamb hot dogs, kabobs, etc.).

my homemade version of Provencal lamb shoulder, about to be slow-roasted with ramps, thyme, zest, lavender, peppercorns, EVOO, and red wine

Besides the a la carte options, one could buy tickets to the Shepherd’s Feast, which is a full-blown lamb-eating bacchanalia…


drool-worthy French chevre…sigh

Besides the meats, I was suitably impressed by the artisanal raw sheep’s milk aged cheeses from Shepherds Manor Creamery that reminded me of simple Pecorinos. But for me personally, the real stars of the show were goat cheeses from Caprikorn Farms, as after being in France, I am desperate for fresh goat milk products. The chevre was made earlier that week, and was still quite goaty, even though it was made with pasteurized milk. The 60-day raw milk goat Gouda was delectable, as well. I ended up with a nice supply of both, and left the festival to enjoy them in the privacy of my own home.

Reminiscing about France, the first thing I put together was a vegetarian-friendly version of salade lyonnaise, with warm herbed fresh goat cheese discs instead of lardons:

My mock lyonnaise shows off the striking indigo frisee, paired with cage-free local poached eggs, the aforementioned goat cheese, and a simple vinaigrette dressing.

The next appetizer appeared in the form of grilled baby zucchini from the farmers’ market stuffed with fresh chevre:

It was followed by more goodies from the market: goat butter, French breakfast radishes, Persian cukes, fleur de sel de Camargue, cornichons, chives, rosemary boule, and raw milk goat Gouda:


And finally, a rustic salad of roasted new potatoes, raw milk 60-day goat Gouda, chives, roasted ramps, and cornichons:

Everything was washed down with a fantastic little-known white from a pioneering wine region in eastern Languedoc called Larzac (classified vin de pays de L’Herault) : 2010 Domaine du Pas d’Escalette Les Clapas. It is an amazingly complex, fresh, and elegant field blend with great limestony minerality.

Thank you, goats and sheep, for a lovely lunch!


16 thoughts on “Goats (and Sheep) Do Roam

  1. I find it utterly ridiculous that we import lamb meat from Australia and New Zealand. Why is there not more domestic sheep and goat production? Neither animal is anywhere nearly as environmentally destructive as cattle.

    • I am totally with you theoretically, but unfortunately, the financial analyst in me can easily recognize that, knowing what we know about lamb production in those countries, it is simply much more competitive. Two of the many reasons for that are that sheep are pasture-raised during the entire cycle, not grain-fed, and that the farming techniques are totally focused on productivity, leading to much lower production costs. The funny thing is that, most likely, the carbon footprint of producing lamb over there and shipping it here is smaller than in the case of domestic production…

      • I agree that the carbon cost per ton of ocean transportation is quite low but domestic production need not be so energy intensive. US-style grain feeding of meat animals is to intended to maximize profit not to produce the best or most overall efficient product. Our increasing reliance on corn monoculture is a disaster waiting to happen.

        • Agreed! My point was not that we shouldn’t even try, and simply reconcile ourselves with the economic reality. However, it will take a paradigm shift in the industry to make it happen.

          • I’m afraid so. There is wonderful meat produced locally here in upstate NY but it tends to be pretty pricy.

  2. Wonderful post similar to one I’m planning for the birth of my grandaughter (coming up too quickly… I’m a nervous mom 🙂 ). Daughter adores lambs and i made a quilt for her featuring them. Now in the process of finishing up some of my favorite lamb recipes. Will link to your page when the time comes 🙂

  3. Love the story, and the smooth transition between cute farm animals and produce that comes from them… After those sheep in sweaters talking about lamb seems so evil!… said a proud owner of a baby-lamb fur coat…

  4. Although, admittedly, the sudden transition between the adorable sheep in sweaters and their insides was a little unexpected, I enjoyed the farm-to-table concept of your post. And am a fan of lamb and goat milk products. The salad with poached egg looks very enticing!

    • Yes, that transition was a bit rough. I think I was going for irony as the literary device here (“the breakdown of the expectations horizon”, according to the German Romanticists).

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