It's full-on kidding season in Chester Springs, where precious little goats are being born every day to Catherine and Al Renzi's herd of Nubians at Yellow Springs Farm.

When it comes to prize season, though, Yellow Springs is no joke. Their Cloud Nine goat cheese just took home first prize at the Pennsylvania Farm Show for the second consecutive year.

This quarter-pound snowball of a cheese, hand-shaped instead of set into the usual geometric form ("We're artisans, I guess!" says Catherine), took the prize this year in the surface-ripened category.

That method results in a rumpled white skin, like the bloomy rind of a brie, that allows this cheese to achieve three textures as it ripens over two to four weeks - the delicate salty snap of its velvety rind, the creamy halo that flows liquid just below its surface, and the fluffy white core at its heart - still tangy and bright with the taste of new milk - that will be familiar to fans of simple chevre.

That subtle complexity makes it a perfect stepping-stone cheese, mild enough for beginners, complex enough for aficionados, to add versatile character to a cheese plate.

While the mother's milk is flowing this month at Yellow Springs, these dreamy little rounds of goaty pleasure can't get any fresher.

- Craig LaBan

Cloud Nine, $6-$8, at Fair Food in the Reading Terminal Market, Metropolitan Bakery, Kimberton Whole Foods, and several Whole Foods Markets; www.yellowspringsfarm.com