Local Goat Rodeo lassos best cheese honors at PA Farm Show
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (January 13, 2022) – The name might mean to dupe or deceive, but there’s no fooling anyone: Goat Rodeo Farm’s “Bamboozle” cheese is the best in Pennsylvania.
The Indiana Township farm and dairy’s signature beer-washed goat and cow’s milk cheese was named best in show at the 106th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg on Jan. 8. The show ends Saturday.
“It’s pretty awesome,” co-founder India Loevner said. She and her husband, Steve, started the 130-farm in the North Hills in 2015. “We’re proud of all of our cheeses. But it really means a lot to get that kind of recognition.”
Described as a “supple, semi-soft texture with notes of prosciutto and peanuts,” the cheese uses milk from their herd of 140 Alpine and Nubian dairy goats combined with cow’s milk from Le-Ara Farms in Armstrong County. The cheese is aged for at least two months and washed with “Tracks Again,” an unfiltered pilsner from Cinderlands Beer Co. in the Strip District.
“It’s a very flavorful cheese without being the kind that knocks your socks off,” with too much pungency, she said.
It’s one of six cheeses Goat Rodeo produces – all of which have been recognized at one time or another since 2017 at the farm show and/or the annual American Cheese Society competition, aka “The Oscars of Cheese.”
With apologies to “The Farmer and the Dell” and Omar Little, this cheese stands alone in one of the top cheese-producing states in the country – Pennsylvania is No. 7 overall.
“There’s lots of great cheese makers in Pennsylvania, and we’re happy to be part of that,” Ms. Loevner said. “Everybody always hears about Vermont, and places like that. But there’s a lot of great farms and cheese makers here. It’s cool. And we have some of the most beautiful farmland in Western Pennsylvania. So we’re happy to be here.”
In the early days of the pandemic, Goat Rodeo wasn’t able to sell much to area restaurants – a backbone of their business – nor could they go to stores to do sampling or direct sales. But it gave them time to play catch-up and take care of some necessary projects, like building an additional cheese-aging cave.
“It definitely had a very big impact,” Ms. Loevner said. “We were really selling more cheese than we could make there for a while, so in that way, it gave us a little time to build up our aging caves with some cheese. But we managed to keep plugging along and sales are picking up again.”
This year they’ll launch a new Manchego-style goat and cow milk cheese rubbed with a smoked paprika.
“We’ve been experimenting with it and getting close to being ready to start marketing. It’s a delicious cheese and it has a little bit of a smoky flavor on the rind,” she said. “It’s very pretty.”
And maybe a future award-winner.