The Goats Mark Spitznagel Hasn’t Killed Are Making Some Very Fine Cheese

Mario Batali is a fan.
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By Eponimm (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Eponimm (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A couple of years ago, Universa Investments founder Mark Spitznagel had an idea: Why don’t I truck 20 of my goats across the entire state of Michigan to serve as unlicensed landscapers for some of Detroit’s more blighted and overgrown neighborhoods, and why don’t I not bother to ask anyone’s permission before I do it? It’s the perfect libertarian solution to two problems: Detroit’s decades of depopulation and decay, and Spitznagel’s surplus of billy goats. Unfortunately, the City of Detroit did not see the latter as the solution to the former, and so Spitznagel had the goats collected and turned into meat.

Now, you almost certainly have questions, the answers to which will beg others. For instance, why does Spitznagel have a surplus of boy goats? The answer is that Spitznagel in his spare time runs a goat farm in northern Michigan. Why do Spitznagel and his wife, Amy, own a goat farm in northern Michigan? Because they noticed there was a farm so rundown it looked like it could be in Detroit not far from their summer home in northern Michigan, and bought it. Why do the Spitznagels vacation in northern Michigan? Because when you live in Miami, that is apparently what you do.

Lastly, what are the Spitznagels doing with all of the girl goats they aren’t shipping to Detroit and then slaughtering? Well, first, they are speaking French to them. Then they are milking them, and turning that milk into cheese.

At the 2017 American Cheese Society Conference in July—the dairy world’s version of the Oscars—Idyll Farms walked away with seven awards, the most for any goat cheese producer in North America. Among their awards: three first place prizes, three seconds, and one third—out of some 2,000 entries…. “To come out of nowhere and win so many ribbons is really impressive,” says Gordon….

Mario Batali and executive chef Frank Langello offer it on the dinner menu at Babbo in Manhattan; you can also find it at Eataly locations in New York and at assorted Detroit restaurants. It’s also present in Batali’s fridge; the star chef has a neighboring country house in Michigan. “Amy has a sharp palette and a mind toward trends, but her cheeses are so clean, so well made and so much a part of their terroir,” says Batali. Batali’s wife Susi Cahn is also a fan—a knowledgeable one: Her father Miles Cahn launched the well-regarded Coach Farm Inc., a goat cheese company.

A Hedge Fund Pioneer Is Making Some of the Best Goat Cheese in America [Bloomberg]

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