We tend to think of goat cheese or chevre as little more than a last-minute crumble over salads or something else to plunk on a holiday cheese board. “Chevre” can also feel too highbrow, better reserved for boutique cheese shops and snooty cheese aficionados. Tasia Malakasis thought the same when she spotted Belle Chevre at a Dean & DeLuca in Manhattan about 15 years ago. Except the cheese wasn’t imported from Europe or made exclusively for the store—it came from the 300-person town of Elkmont in Alabama, Tasia’s home state.

She quit her job in the tech industry, moved to Elkmont, and acquired Belle Chevre in 2007. She rebranded and expanded the product line (it’s still growing) into award-winning goat cheeses for every day. Spreadable flavors include pimento cheese, coffee, fig, and honey. “Goat cheese is lower in fat than cow’s milk. It has more probiotics and less lactose so it’s easy to digest. And it’s good for your skin and hair…literally a beauty product you can eat,” she says.

We loved the silky smooth texture and mild tang Belle Chevre gave to cheesecake, the body and creaminess it added to salad dressing, and how well it took to treatments like an olive oil and sun-dried tomato marinade or a crust of crushed bourbon pecans, mint, and sugar. We can’t wait to see what else Belle Chevre has in store.

Great Goat Cheese Recipes: