Fire in the belly

Photograph: Stephanie Gussin

On this side of the Atlantic, goat cheese gets an unfair rap. Along with cappuccino and croissants, it’s an ’80s-era gourmet food that’s often associated with faux sophistication and effete bourgeois tastes. But a robust variety that we’ve grown quite fond of, Rivers Edge Chvre Up in Smoke from Oregon’s Three Ring Farm, puts some, dare we say it, hair on the dainty curds’ chest. In what we imagine to be a sort of primal ritual, the cheese makers swaddle a ball of their tangy fresh chvre in smoked maple leaves that have been spritzed with Old Ezra Kentucky bourbon, and then smoke it over alder and hickory chips. Though the rugged flavor of smoke dominates, there’s a hint of honey, thanks to the bourbon, and a lingering taste of bacon. Rivers Edge producer Pat Morford suggests pairing the creamy fromage with fizzy hard cider. And since we’re already doling out breezy party-hosting tips, we think serving Up in Smoke in its leaves makes for edgy entertaining—whether or not that means we’re yuppies is another issue. Available through March for $12.99 at Murray’s Cheese (254 Bleecker St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-243-3289,