American-West


After two days of creamy cows-milk cheeses, we turn today to the equally luscious goats-milk cheese from California’s Cypress Grove: the multi-award winning Truffle Tremor. This earthy, rich cheese is always a delight.

Truffle Tremor and its fans (with cheesemaker Mary Keehn)

To really impress your guests, go all out and serve a truffle-themed cheese board with a trio of Truffle Tremor, Tartufo salami from Creminelli, and truffle honey. Add two more cheeses, perhaps Rogue River Blue and Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar, to cut the richness (and round out your West Coast cheese trilogy). Serve with a dry sparkling wine from California.

It’s hard to imagine a more decadent way to ring in the New Year … but we’ll try with tomorrow’s #1 bubbly-worthy cheese pick, so stay tuned!

disclosure: I received free samples of Creminelli salami. No other compensation was received, and as always, all opinions and reviews are strictly our own.

Last night the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah began, and it is customary for the holiday meals to include apples dipped in honey to symbolize the hope for a “sweet” year ahead. As your C+C bloggers are 1.5 parts Jewish (yours truly is only Jewish-by-marriage), we thought we’d take a moment to reflect on some of our favorite cheese and honey pairings*. While it’s practically passé to sample blue cheeses with honey, its sweet touch brings the best out of a wide range of cheeses. One of my favorite breakfasts is a piece of toast spread with ricotta cheese and honey. The tang of goats’ milk cheeses, sharpness of an aged cheddar, and bite of a stinky blue can all be tamed and complemented with a little drop of sweet honey.

And it just so happens one of the reviews I’ve had in store is Sally Jackson goat cheese, pictured here with … honey.

Sally Jackson is one of the pioneers of American artisanal cheese, having started her small Eastern Washington dairy farm during the Carter administration. Her small herds of goats and sheep are joined by three dairy cows, and she makes small batches of hand-crafted raw milk cheeses which are shipped to a select handful of retailers. I snatched up the Sally Jackson goat cheese at La Fromagerie earlier this summer, and wasn’t disappointed. (There are no cutesy names here, the cheeses are simply known as goat, sheep, or Guernsey.) This lovely round, made from the milk of Alpine and Nubian goats, is wrapped in grape leaves which enhance the fruity, herbal flavors in the milk. The cheese is dense, moist and creamy with an unexpected bright flavor. And as mentioned, it goes wonderfully with a drop of honey — and some wine.

A few other cheeses we’ve enjoyed with honey here on CheeseandChampagne:

Cashel Irish Blue, in a radish and pear salad with honey vinaigrette

St. Pete’s Select, a Minnesota blue

Narrangasett, Rhode Island ricotta, which I consumed by the bowlful topped with honey and berries

Cabot Clothbound Cheddar with a honeycrisp apple

and of course you can’t go wrong with the honey-rubbed Sea Hive cheddar from Beehive Cheese Co. (review coming soon!)

What’s your favorite cheese to drizzle with honey? L’Shana Tova!

(*of course, if you keep kosher, you’ll have to reserve the cheese board for dairy meals. also, these cheeses are not necessarily kosher themselves, as they may contain animal rennet. end disclaimer.)

Today a friend of the blog shares a cheese-lover’s recipe for an impromptu summer picnic. Thanks, Ali!

Our small group of friends hadn’t anticipated that we would end up at Cheesetique that day, but I’m so glad we did. We sampled several different cheeses that day – one in particular that was unique was the Truffle Tremor.

truffle tremor

My husband suggested we try it and since I am a huge fan of softer cheeses and truffles it sounded like a winner to me! The texture was deliciously smooth, with a pungent and tangy, yet earthy taste to it. It kept surprising me as I sampled.

cheesetique assortment

After purchasing (between the four of us) at least eight different kinds of cheese, we found a nearby shaded picnic bench and dove into an impromptu cheese picnic. And although we all had our favorites, the truffle tremor stood out as a unique taste amongst the group.

crusty bread

— Ali Teitelbaum, Life, Love & Dog Hair

Congrats to Mary Keehn and our friends at Cypress Grove Chevre for being named a silver finalist in the Classic category of the 2010 sofi™ Awards! Cheese+Champagne favorite Humboldt Fog is the only cheese in this category, and if we had our way, it will be named the winner. We’ll find out at the 2010 Summer Fancy Food Show, to be held in New York on June 27-29. As you may recall, last year Cypress Grove came out on top in the Cheese/Dairy category for its delicious Truffle Tremor.

The 2010 finalists in Cheese/Dairy are:

Other cheesey finalists include:

It looks like we have some new cheeses to add to our ever-growing to-do list! Since Colleen and I won’t be able to attend this year’s Fancy Food Show, we’ll have to seek out tastes elsewhere. (Samples are always welcome!)

Neither snow nor rain nor hear nor gloom of night could keep me from getting my hands on a pyramid of Haystack Peak. Well, the story isn’t that dramatic. Unable to locate one of the Colorado-made goat’s-milk cheeses in Minneapolis, I called up Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy and asked if the cheesemaker could send me one mere piece. Luckily, a nice woman named Joanna tracked down one of the remaining cheeses of the season and sent it the same day. The cheese arrived, surrounded by ice packs, in perfect condition, and I’m happy to report that the Haystack Peak was worth the cost. (I paid more to ship the cheese than the cost of the cheese itself. Seriously.)

Though the Haystack Peak’s shape immediately made me think of the disaster that was Valencay, the tasting experience was not at all similar. Instead of a soury bite, I got the clean, fresh taste of goat cheese that makes me get excited for spring. Haystack Peak is made from the pasteurized milk of Nubian, Saanen and La Mancha goats, and while I’m definitely no goat expert, I’d say that blend of milks makes a pretty awesome cheese. The pyramid shape can be awkward to slice, but that didn’t stop me from plowing my knife through the snowy wedge, and atop a whole-wheat cracker it was blissful.

Wine Spectator recommends pairing Haystack Peak with an Alsatian Pinot Gris or Gewürztraminer, and Haystack Mountain suggests you add some toasted almonds, quince jam or dried fruits on the side. As usual, I am perfectly content with just the cheese and a knife, but if you are able to find Haystack Peak at your local cheese shop, let us know which pairings you prefer.

Recently in the cheese world …

American Goat Cheese Awards: The American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) annual cheese competition was held last month in New York. Congratulations to Bonnie Blue Farm (TN) for the Best in Show award for Tanasi Tomme, and to Split Creek Farm (SC) for Reserve Best in Show for Farm Feta in Olive Oil. Familiar names on the winners list include Maryland’s Firefly Farms (four awards) and Spriggs Delight Farm; Oregon’s Rivers Edge Chevre (1st in flavored hard cheeses for Astraea); California’s Redwood Hill Farm (cleaning up the yogurt & kefir categories) and Fat Toad Farm in Vermont for their goats milk caramel sauce. View the complete results here.

MSLivingNov09Craft Cheese in Mainstream Media: Martha Stewart Living’s November issue features Vermont’s artisan cheesemakers, and the cheese episode airs this Thursday, Nov. 5, featuring Liz Thorpe. Emeril Lagasse is also on the bandwagon, recently visiting Jasper Hill Farm and Bellwether Farms in California for the Emeril Green show. The Bellwether episode (“Pass the Cheese, Please”) first aired last night, Nov. 2, but check the listings for a re-run if you missed it.

Tillamook Mac ‘n Cheese Competition: Last month was the 5th annual Tillamook Macaroni and Cheese competition in Portland, OR. The winner? Ann Jones from Littleton, CO, with her “Rustic Fried Sage and Chicken Apple Sausage Mac ‘n Cheese with Autumn Chutney.” She took both grand prize and people’s choice (and, I presume, longest recipe name!). Congrats!

Free Cheese! Bellwether Farms is giving away a $100 gift certificate to one lucky winner. To enter, create an original recipe using Bellwether’s creme fraiche and submit the recipe and a photo by December 1st. View complete details here.

On the Cheese Blogs: Madame Fromage selected Meadow Creek‘s Grayson as her Halloween cheese (great pick!) … The Cheeselover Fiona Beckett is served a unique cheese course … View pictures from the 2009 PDX Wedge Festival … Check out this recipe for Savory Onion and Gouda Dutch Baby from Herbivoracious (perfect for any bits of L’Amuse or Roomano you may have around).

American Cheese on Twitter: Now that Twitter has launched their lists feature, we’ve set about to create the ultimate list of American cheesemakers/sellers/enthusiasts. If you’re interested in America’s craft cheese movement, these are our must-follows. And if you make, sell, or promote cheese in America and we somehow aren’t yet following you on Twitter, drop us a note in the comments or @100cheeses.

Cheese of the Month: The most viewed cheese review we posted for the month of October was… Coach Farm’s goat medallion (third from left, above).

Remember to check our DC and MN Cheese Event listings for classes, tastings and more … we’ll be updating as holiday events are announced. And if you have cheese events or news to share, drop us a note at dccheese@gmail.com or mncheese@gmail.com.



I recently got to spend 48 hours in the wonderful foodie mecca of San Francisco. Unfortunately, I failed to consult the event calendar at the Cheese School of San Francisco until after booking my flight, an oversight I’ll be sure not to repeat in the future. It turned out that that very evening, as my flight was due to arrive, the School would be hosting a fundraiser for the California Artisan Cheese Guild. Needless to say I was determined to hightail it to the event. While I arrived too late to meet the cheesemaker behind the @BellwetherFarms Twitter handle, I did luck out and meet Mariano Gonzalez, the cheesemaker from Fiscalini Cheese Co., whose bandaged cheddar was one of the few cheddars we hadn’t yet secured from the 100 cheeses list. I had a lengthy discussion with Mariano about the challenges of doing business in California. With the added problems in the dairy industry, Califonia’s happy cows are not as happy as they used to be. 

There were several other California cheesemakers represented whose names might ring a bell… Cowgirl of course, Redwood Hill, Cypress Grove, Bellwether as mentioned (oh, their creme fraiche is delightful) and a brand new producer, Barinaga Ranch. I enjoyed sampling Marcia Barinaga’s wonderful Basque-style sheeps-milk cheeses and chatting about her small start-up farm in Marin. (Check out her website and try not to be jealous of those sheeps’ gorgeous home!) And of course it was a privilege to chat with Jennifer Bice of Redwood, founder of the Cheese Guild and one of California’s artisan cheese pioneers. (In good company with Mary Keehn at Cypress Grove, Laura Chenel, and the Cowgirls …. hmm, see a theme here? Not that men don’t make good cheese, but there are quite a few notable women in the cheese world.)

 

Fiscalini cheesemaker Mariano Gonzalez

Fiscalini cheesemaker Mariano Gonzalez

And the Who’s Who of cheese didn’t stop at the cheesemakers. I picked the brain of Canyon of Cheese blogger Bryce about his favorite California cheeses, and met Gordon Edgar, S.F. cheesemonger and author of Gordonzola and an upcoming book. Before leaving San Francisco I paid homage to the Cowgirl Creamery shop in the Ferry Building, naturally, and brought home some more California treats. Here’s a sneak peak.

 

Now to the Cheese-of-the-Day: Fiscalini Bandaged Cheddar. Fiscalini’s cheese making began in 2000, when John Fiscalini, a third generation dairy farmer, was inspired by a visit to his ancestral home in Lionza in the Swiss Alps. He added a cheese plant to the Modesto, CA, farm,  hired master cheesemaker Mariano Gonzalez away from Shelburne Farms in Vermont, and quickly began winning awards for their farmstead cheeses. The bandaged (a.k.a. clothbound) cheddar, like their other cheeses, is made in small batches from their raw cows’ milk. Click here for a slide show of the cheesemaking process.

Fiscalini Bandaged Cheddar (photo courtesy of Bryce Allemann, Canyon of Cheese)

Fiscalini Bandaged Cheddar (photo courtesy of Bryce Allemann, Canyon of Cheese)

 Having tasted Vermont cheddars in a relatively short amount of time before my western trek, I was amazed at the difference between the two. Fiscalini’s has a creamy, dense, granular texture, sweet yet salty, with a bright flavor that makes the cheese dance on your tongue. I’m not going to make judgments about the relative happiness of cows in California vs. Vermont, but I swear you can taste the sunshine in this cheese. It goes wonderfully with a red wine, like Zinfandel (from California, naturally). 

Fiscalini also makes the unique San Joaquin Gold — following the European tradition of naming cheeses after the place where they’re made — which is excellent. Do give either of these Fiscalini cheeses a try if you happen upon them, and let us know what you think!

 

with Bryce of Canyon of Cheese

with Bryce of Canyon of Cheese

 

(A big thank you to Bryce for allowing me to use his picture of Fiscalini’s cheddar, above — in my haste to sample every bit of cheese before closing time, my meager iPhone pictures turned out even blurrier than usual. And thank you to Mariano, who generously sent me home with a doggy bag full of cheddar, which was my breakfast and midnight snack for the weekend!)

Next Page »