28 February 2007

Nor-cal Creaminess: From the Goats of Humboldt Bay...

This Tasting...
When: Wednesday, 28 February 2007
Where: San Diego, San Francisco, Washington, DC, London
What: Northern California-produced ripened goat's milk cheeses (e.g. from Cypress Grove Chevre, Aracata, CA)
Who: Fromagedumois members, and the rest of illustrious cheese enthusiast world...

Did you know that, according to the American Dairy Goat Association (http://adga.org), more people drink goat's milk around the world than any other type of milk? That's easy for you to say ADGA.... :)

This bi-weekly tasting is the first of an American cheese that we have questrd for. It is an important part in our journey for amateur cheese excellence because the North America contributes its fair share to the market of the world's great cheeses. This journey begins about 200 miles north of San Francisco....

Humboldt County, California, is known for a bunch of things in the U.S., including an absoultely gorgeous surrounding outdoor playground and, of course, Chinese exploration in the late 1880s. But, lately, it has gained prominence for its growing number of dairy farmers who have earned some national reputations for making outstanding cheeses.

One standout producer in this region, Cypress Grove Chevre, has expanded in the past decade to encompass a number of farms and dozens of different goat's milk products. Despire it's growth, it still maintains its 'artisinal' cheese making process from its humble beginnings. All of the steps in the process of meticulously carried out by hand. (more details to come....)

Begin the tasting dialogue below!


  1. I don't know if you guys tried any of these cheeses but they are really very tasty. If you think of you're regular chevre cheese, made in the U.S., that might be more factory or mass produced, there is a differences with these artisinal goat's milk cheeses. I tried the Humboldt Fog from Whole Foods which I have heard about from multiple people (most CA-oriented) and have also seen it served in a bunch of restaurants in the DC area as an option on appetizer cheese plates. It is a smooth and full taste - it taste more complete, more full then your average cheese. It has its characteristic line of ash going down the middle of the wheel- does anyone know why and/or how this comes in to play? I think they discuss it on the producer's website. Anyway, curious about any of the other super-chevres anyone else tried....

  2. i have to say: one of the very reasons that i became interested in cheese tasting at all was humboldt fog. i think this cheese is truly outstanding. even after months of regular tasting this cheese is still elusive and completely enjoyable to me.
    the ash down the middle is actually vegetable ash, ricky, which also plays a role in the rind. i tasted along with provolone ranger and assorted other folks. we stuck to chardonnay, humboldt fog, and the cyprus grove chevre.
    clearly the humboldt fog was the best. i'll get back to that. i thought the chevre was actually really sour. i may have kept it out of the fridge too long because my guests were very late - which i think compromised the texture. i think it should be eaten slightly chilled. it was good with crackers. i think fruit would augment, too...
    and the humboldt fog was tremendous as usual. such a myriad of flavors and textures: continually changing as you taste. i think if any cheese reminds me of wine it would be this one.
    i have other news to report: we may be bringing on some new members as soon as they resolve their cheese names. more later!

  3. gouds- your combinations of cheese with 'other' are always amazing. you should write an book that is based solely on pairings...your parmigianno w/ apple (i bleieve) was your last hit. I will remember chardonnay w/ humboldt fog, although my guess is something dry, like a pinot gris grape might be just as nice. then you have a sort of dry finish with a full cheese. so, anyway, im glad you also tried the chevre-- interesting that it was sour - i'll look for it next time i am at the store.

    i can't wait to hear who are the newest augmenting, sentient beings to this growing joyfest. on with the fromage names. By the way, we need to keep in mind a possible second involvement of our Guest Artisan from two samples ago...

  4. Hmmmm. So I was the late guest that caused the chevre to be sour, huh? Well, I agree with goudacris that the Humboldt Fog was the bomb. We actually had it together once before at a San Diego establishment, and I really enjoyed it. It's a very accessible cheese-- good texture and tasty. Good for a novice like me and the other guests who shall remain unnamed.

  5. first off, it's good to be here. thanks to gouda for the invite and thanks to all you fromageophiles for letting me in on the fun.

    i purchased myself a nice wedgelet of hf from my local overpriced but charming "gourmet grocery". as i am in san francisco, i selected a fine sourdough baguette as an accompaniment. i followed a hot tip from gouda and decided to sample this cheese with a crisp, refreshing white wine (i opted for pinot grigio) and some pears.

    i took my fog home and gave it a quick visual inspection. i have to say the rind is pretty badass looking. i, too, was intrigued (and slightly disconcerted) by the blue moldylooking line running down the center of the cheese… and most pleased to learn that it is merely vegetable ash. although this does beg the question: what exactly is vegetable ash and what is it doing in my cheese?

    in any case, the fog looked good. it smelled good. i sampled it first with baguette. then with pear. both times with wine. mmmm. smooth. light. delectable. a bit powdery, perhaps, which in my opinion is a very good thing.

    apparently, many people consider the darker outer portion, or "shell", to be the best part of this cheese. as i am automatically wary of "many people" and the things they like, i was prepared to hate it. but i must admit this yellowish, slightly runny-looking portion of the cheese was simply divine. just enough tart und tang blended perfectly with the smooth fogginess that is the middle portion. i pity the cheese that has to follow an act as tough as humboldt.

    in short (not really), i like this cheese. i like it very much.

  6. Welcome chedda. That is pretty interesting about the outer, yellowish shell tasted good and is oft-talked about...I will try to pay attention next time.

    Indeed, Gouda should take up a permanent, side-job position in this project as consultant for fromage pairings-- he always has great selections many of which he stumbles on using some intuition and some luck, I imagine.

    As for the vegetable ash: first, indeed we are all correct: it is decorative veg. ash, albeit edible, that the produce puts in for the cheese's signature mark.(http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/cheeses/PDFs/humboldtFog.pdf)

    As for why? I couldn't find it online. I think it's purely for stand-out quality. Ciao, for now..

  7. Few words can describe the pleasure of sitting in a dimly-lit living room -- jazz cooly lingering from the record player in the corner -- mixing cheese and wine with none other than Goudacris himself. An honor, indeed.

    Contrary to the popular vote, I must contest HF's lofty status. While it is a delicious cheese that goes down smooth, I find the taste a bit too mild. I agree it has s fuller taste than your average chevre, but is it noticeably different from the "average" served on an herb slab? It is a great cheese worth picking up for an evening snack, but it might not be worth writing home about.

  8. The passion and vision of the lady and her team @ Cypress Grove is to be seen in the product