Ziegenhof Leiner's Zigorome is just such a cheese hybrid from Sulzberg, Germany. This washed-rind goat cheese, just 150 g (5.5 oz), is brushed with a brine (a combination of water and salt) during a four-week-long aging process that gives the rind its light orange-like color and sticky touch. This method of affinage also gives Zigorome an extra animal tang, typical in a wheel of Epoisses, but certainly not the norm for a soft-ripened goat's milk cheese. In short, this delicious fromage balances the spicy pungency of a stinky washed-rind cheese with the sweetness of fresh goat's milk.
Not surprisingly, the mind-blowing taste of this Bavarian cheese has much to do with the small size of the farm (just 60 goats), allowing Ulrich and Monika Leiner – the owners – to give their goats that extra level of TLC responsible for such exquisite milk. The feeding of the goats is entirely seasonal, and so is their milking. During the warm summer months, they are fed fresh-cut grass, and, in the winter, organic grain. In this way, the sweet taste of the goat's milk reflects the region of Allgäu, where the goats graze. In addition, these pampered farm animals are not forced to live under artificial light 365 days a year, in order to lengthen the duration of the milking cycle and to artificially increase the amount of milk. Instead, they're milked according to their natural cycle resulting in a series of tastes reflective of the land.
Though not nearly as pungent as a bite of Sablé de Wissant, Zigorome has a similar gamey taste without being too abrasive on the palate. And, part of the reason why it's not as strong as other washed-rind cheeses has to do with the sweetness of the milk. From its sticky rind and gooey interior to its unctuous texture with a hint of savory chestnut honey, Zigorome tastes like a mouth-watering cheese bun. In short, it's extremely hard to place this cheese into a specific flavor profile and to categorize it as strong or mild. It's pleasantly both. And so, it's the perfect cheese for gourmands who are starting to dapple in cheese flavors they've never explored. It's certainly the cheese to try before discovering the more intensely stinky group of washed-rinds.
That said, Zigorome's one-of-a-kind mix of sweet and spicy makes it a must-try for everyone. So, when in Bavaria, do as the Bavarians do, and check out Zigorome along with other goat cheeses at the weekly food market in Kempten, Germany.