It felt like a day in early July at the South Pasadena Farmers’ Market last week. Although the sun had gone down just before I arrived, the heat still emanated from the pavement, warming the bottoms of my feet through my beat-up sandals. It was nearing 7:30 p.m, and many farmers had a slightly wearied look on their sun-kissed faces -- no one had quite expected temperatures to be in the mid-80s that day.
After I’d made my usual rounds, glanced in envy at the couple splitting a cold bottle of white wine on the quaint patio outside , and giggled at the kids dancing to the folk band playing in the center of Meridian Avenue, I made my last and final stop at a booth I’d been eyeing for the last several weeks: Soledad Goat Cheese.
Soledad Goat Cheese is currently the only cheesemaker at the Thursday night market and has been doling out tastes of their fresh goat cheese and homemade yogurts to South Pasadenians since December. Boasting unique flavors of chévre such as Sweet Pepper Shallot, Garlic and Herb, and their award-winning Lemon Honey Lavender, which beat 1,800 other cheeses at the London World Cheese Awards in 2005, Soledad is a wonderful addition to the market’s repertoire of talented vendors.
Owned by husband-and-wife team Julian and Carol Pearce, Soledad houses nearly 350 goats who just might be the luckiest four-stomached mammals around. Not only are Julian and Carol experts in their field (he is a practiced pre-ruminant specialist and she has experience rearing calves), their goats are fed a mostly-organic diet and are treated with the utmost care and compassion.
“I’m a bit of a head case when it comes to the nutrition of our girls,” Julian confessed in his endearing English accent. “If we look after them right, they look after us right. We treat our animals with great respect.”
Aside from simply claiming happy, humanely-treated animals, the Pearces have been able to achieve great success with their cheesemaking business. It’s been just five years since they moved back from England and began operating their goat farm and cheese plant out of Mojave, yet today, Soledad attends 20 farmers’ markets and produces nearly 50 pounds of cheese per week for top chefs all over the country.
Although all of their yogurts and cheeses are well-liked, it’s the goat cheese balls in olive oil that seem to have left the biggest impression on South Pasadena Farmers’ Market goers. Known by many as “OMG Rolls” for their ability to evoke a guttural, “Ohhh my God!” from nearly every person whose lips they cross, goat cheese balls in olive oil are basically just that: hand-rolled chévre marinating in a jar filled with olive oil and a tasty blend of 20 different herbs and spices. According to Julian, the flavorful cheese balls are best enjoyed with some good, crusty bread. He also recommends using the leftover olive oil in salad, pasta, or even atop roasted vegetables.
No matter what your sentiments are about cheese, Soledad is definitely worth a try. Stop by Soledad Goat Cheese at your next visit to the South Pasadena Farmers' Market to learn more about cheesemaking and to pick up any one of their delicious varieties of goat cheese or yogurt.