Cheese

The Indiana Goat Cheese That Cheesemongers Are Obsessed With

August 18, 2016

Back in the 1980s, Judy Schad was forging ahead in the very new landscape of American small-production cheesemaking. She's the founder of Capriole Goat Cheese, and back then, she was joined in her field by a very small number of start-up cheesemakers, including her friend Mary Keehn, who founded Cypress Grove.

Capriole's Wabash Cannonballs straight chillin' on a cheese board. Photo by Linda Xiao

But Judy was making cheese before then, where she lived in Greenville, Indiana. Greenville is your typical rural Indiana town: long, meandering roads tucked in between swaths of trees, rolling hills, and expansive fields. The Capriole farm is very 'off a dirt road, and another dirt road, and another,' and very much a working farm—Judy still raises the goats, and ages and sells the cheese there.

At the time Judy started Capriole, the artisan cheese selection in the States was very limited—and it stayed that way into the 1990s. It was then, at what's probably considered the very beginning of the American artisan cheese movement, that cheesemakers like Judy and Mary were becoming more specialized. They were beginning to go beyond fresh chèvre.

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Top Comment:
“Judy Schad's Capriole cheeses are truly artisan cheese at it's finest. Each one is so unique and special. If I have Capriole in my refrigerator, I know it's a good day. Not to mention that as a person, she is wonderful.”
— Susan S.
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Among her other award-winning cheeses, Judy makes a funky little number that's seduced me since the mid-aughts, not only for its flavor but for its odd wrinkly shape and barnyard-y, slightly sweet taste, and it's name that gets my nostalgia and love for Indiana going. That would be the Wabash Cannonball.

Judy debuted this little 3-ounce boule dusted with ash and a white mold rind in 1992, and just a few years later, in 1995, it won Best-of-Show from the American Cheese Society. It’s garnered more and more attention as the years have gone by. (“People still love it—and we love it,” Judy beams.) The name is a little play on words since boule means ball in French. (I find it not merely coincidence, though, that it's also the name of a famous folk song about a train, as well as an actual Amtrak train that runs in the Midwest.)

Because of how it’s made and the rind that it sports, a Wabash Cannonball is a fragile cheese. “The rind mold is much more delicate than what you might see on Brie or Humboldt Fog,” Judy explains. “The cheese is small so the rind ripens very quickly.” Because of its delicate nature, she suggests to store it in paper or a sealed container rather than plastic.

A closer-up of these wrinkly little dudes. Photo by Linda Xiao

Funny enough, Judy didn't begin distributing the cheese across Indiana and then grow outward—the process was the complete opposite. Growing up in rural Indiana in the 1990s, I never once saw Capriole in our local supermarket, even though it was made just a few hours away. They needed a much wider market to survive, as American artisan cheeses were just coming onto the market: Judy introduced her cheeses in Chicago in 1988, then went out to the Eastern Seaboard, and then to the West. Finally, in the 2000s, she brought things back home. "Indiana was last on the block!" she exclaims.

New York is familiar with these little boules: Jessey LaShier, cheese and charcuterie buyer at Stinky Brooklyn, told me that the cheese is a staff and customer favorite. “We love Wabash Cannonballs, and everything made at Capriole, here at Stinky, and have been selling them since 2010,” says Jessey.

She adds that it’s been just in the last year or so that people are coming in specifically for them, outside of their usual fans. Her recommendation? Serve it alongside fresh, juicy red fruits, like cherries, raspberries, or strawberries, and wash it down with a slightly sweet saison (she recommends Trinity Brewing's One Ear Saison).

Ask for Capriole's Wabash Cannonballs, as well as their other divine goat cheeses, at your local cheese shop. If they don't stock them, you can order them online here.

Do you have a cheese you pine for on the regular? Tell me in the comments below so I can seek it out, too.

18 Comments

Greg S. July 6, 2017
The Sofia and Julianna are two of my favorite Capriole Farms cheeses. But, they are all excellent! Judy hasn't won all those awards for nothing.
 
Rita M. May 6, 2017
Montonolo (sp?), a soft blue from Germany is the cheese I miss. Paired with ginger crackers, it is addictive.
 
Kaite December 15, 2016
When Spring rolls around I always make a trip to the store to buy their plain goat cheese logs. The goats come out to pasture in the spring and eat all that delicious grass. It really comes through in the cheese and I just can't seem to get enough of it! YUM!
 
Susan S. August 22, 2016
Judy Schad's Capriole cheeses are truly artisan cheese at it's finest. Each one is so unique and special. If I have Capriole in my refrigerator, I know it's a good day. Not to mention that as a person, she is wonderful.
 
JAH August 22, 2016
The aged Vermont cheddar at the Old Country Store in Moultonborough, NH.<br />I
 
cv August 18, 2016
I miss Mimolette, being held by the FDA for exceeding new mite threshold levels since 2013. <br /><br />I also miss reblochon au lait cru, because the traditional 50-day aging period for this raw milk cheese is now insufficient for the FDA's requirement for legal sale.<br /><br />You'll have to go to Europe to find these two.
 
Author Comment
Samantha W. August 18, 2016
Mimolette is a favorite of mine, too, cv.
 
cv August 18, 2016
Ah well, it's not just cheeses that are affected by the FDA. <br /><br />Imported meats are still affected, particularly cured meats from Tuscany like finocchiona and lardo di Colonnata.<br /><br />Lots of reasons to travel internationally for those who enjoy authentic food.
 
ChefJune August 18, 2016
Reblochon is one of my favorites, too but I've never liked any I got here in the states. I don't think the best ones ever got shipped here in the first place (Renée Richard).
 
ChefJune August 18, 2016
I've been a fan of Capriole cheeses for a long time. Nice to know they're available locally now.
 
Author Comment
Samantha W. August 18, 2016
Yes! You can find it at Bedford Cheese Shop, too. Capriole is such a gem.
 
Debbie N. August 18, 2016
Thank you! Any other recipe ideas for it? Maybe wrap with a herb and a piece of procuitto? Or stone fruit instead of melon?
 
Author Comment
Samantha W. August 18, 2016
Both sound excellent! Peaches might be perfect right now!
 
HalfPint August 18, 2016
For literally 10 years, I searched high and low in California for Bonne Bouche from the Vermont Creamery. I first sampled it at Bon Appetit's Food & Wine Festival in San Francisco (during the height of the Start Up era) and I fell in love with it. After the event, I searched every single cheese counter for it but couldn't find anything and no one seemed to know what it was. Then magically, 4 years ago, I saw it at Whole Foods and bought out their entire stock (all 4 little wooden crates of it). It's now available in all the good cheese counters and I don't have to visit Vermont to get my fix-I mean-supply :)
 
Author Comment
Samantha W. August 18, 2016
What an awesome feeling when you find something you're always subconsciously looking for.
 
Debbie N. August 18, 2016
I have been trying to find halumi (sp?) To try sine I Luv cheese. I have been here about it more and more lately. I would prefer to try before buy, but haven't been able to find.<br />Thanks.
 
HalfPint August 18, 2016
@Debbie, check out Greek/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern grocery stores. I've seen it spelled "halumi" and "haloumi".
 
ChefJune August 18, 2016
Debbie, since Haloumi is served grilled, you may not find tastes of it in a shop, unless it is being featured. It's native to Cyprus, and should be available in Greek shops - or look for it in an online store such as iGourmet.com