Laura Chenel, a real person, began making cheese in the 1970s in Sonoma County. After one goat turned to many, and she had to figure out how to use the milk, she began making cheese. After stumbling a bit, she headed to France, to learn from other cheesemaking families.
Once back in U.S., Laura began selling her now, stellar cheese. Alice Waters, the owner of Chez Panisse, tried it, and fell in love. She began ordering 50 pounds a week, while creating a now-familiar recipe. Alice breaded and baked slices of the Laura’s chèvre (Chevre, by the way, is the French word for cheese, and is used to refer to fresh, spreadable goat cheese), then laid the disks on a bed of mesclun greens. Voila! Goat cheese salad was born.
Many other goat cheesemakers followed in her footsteps, making goat cheese a national staple.
In 2006, Laura sold her company to Rians, a French company owned by the Triballat family, who later also purchased Marin French Cheese Company.
Chevre is not only a great topping for salads, you can put it on pizza or pasta. You can also use it as a substitute in recipes calling for sour cream or ricotta. It has a wonderful bite for those who love tang in their foods. This chèvre comes plain or flavored with various herbs.
Though Laura Chenel is not open to the public, you can pick up cheese at the Marin French and picnic by the lake, or one of many other retail shops.
This month Whole Foods is promoting Laura Chenel’s Chabis during “Build your own California Cheese Platter” and suggests pairing it with Candied Lemon & Hazelnut Bittersweet Chocolate Bar by Charles Chocolates.