Best of the Fancy Food Show 2010: CHEESE CHEESE CHEESEfeatured
I am so late to the game on this post, I’m almost too ashamed to post it. Damn you, Procrastination, damn you. I’m making a stand. No more staring at this in my “Draft” box and re-writing this on my “To-do” list every week – let’s get on with the show, shall we?
The Cheese section of the Fancy Food Show is a sight to behold. All the cheese a girl could dream of. Aisles and aisles of the creamy, stinky, glorious stuff! Top 5 standouts this year were:
- Cypress Grove – Truffle Tremor
- Rogue Creamery – Echo Mountain, Caveman, and Brutal Blue
- Mevgal – Feta
- Bellwether Farms – Cultured Whole Jersey Ricotta
- Mt. Townsend Creamery – Seastack
1) Cypress Grove’s Truffle Tremor
If you’re a fan of goat cheese, Cypress Grove’s newest masterpiece, Truffle Tremor will knock your socks off. A luxurious, delicate blend of ripened goat cheese and Italian black truffles, Truffle Tremor is earthy, elegant, velvety decadence.
We had the chance to chat with Founder and Master Cheesemaker Mary Keehn, who talked about how it all started. Simply put, Mary had goats. And she was the ultimate hippie mom who wanted only the healthiest milk for her four daughters. Well, one thing led to another, Cypress Grove Chevre was born, and goat cheese lovers round the world rejoiced.
If goat cheese is your thing, you won’t want to miss the first-ever Goat Festival presented by CUESA and the “Goat Girls” of Super Goat at the Ferry Building on Saturday, April 17th, 10 am – 1 pm.
This free event will be a celebration of all things Goat! Enjoy free samples of delicious and nutritious, award-winning goat’s milk cheeses, yogurts, kefirs and ice creams, watch cooking demonstrations by leading chefs featuring goat’s milk goodies, and best of all, play with adorable baby goats!
2) Rogue Creamery’s Echo Mountain, Caveman, and Brutal Blue
You may remember Rogue Creamery from last year’s Fancy Food Show Cheese post when I fell in love with their Rogue River Blue. Needless to say, I was pumped to see what our friends at Rogue had in store for us this year.
We were not disappointed. There were not one, but three special Rogue blues that won my heart this year.
My favorite was the Echo Mountain Blue, one of Rogue Creamery’s rarest cheeses. Only 400 wheels of it are made annually. Its exquisite, ripe blue flavor is a result of 8 months of aging. One taste and the sweet fruit and brown butter flavors bloom in your mouth and linger for a few glorious moments before melting away.
Caveman Blue was a beauty as well. Rogue’s oldest brand from 1928, Caveman was resurrected and perfected over the past 7 years. It has a depth of flavor with lots of caramel tones, like “adult candy” as Rogue’s President/Cheesemaker David Gremmels likes to say. Mmm yes, please. I will have me some Caveman Candy any day.
And last but certainly not least, Brutal Blue…aged for 4 full years! It is in-tense. It is intensely intense. With a rich mouthfeel full of crunch from developed tyrosine and lactic crystals, and bold flavors of aromatic pepper bursting at the seams.
Mevgal’s Feta cheese stopped me dead in my tracks. It had a fragrant, robust flavor that brought to mind images of Grecian pastures dotted with olive trees, fresh rosemary-perfumed air, and green green grass. Pleasantly tangy and sweet, it is made with a mixture of fresh sheep’s and goat’s milk.
Mevgal is the first company in Greece to launched feta in a pre-packed vacuum format. Distribution in Northern California started in October, so keep your eyes open for this in your local stores.
4) Bellwether Farms’ Cultured Whole Jersey Ricotta
Family owned and operated Bellwether Farms, located in Sonoma, is well known for its phenomenal sheep’s milk ricotta and other cheeses. Being a cow’s milk girl myself, I was particularly excited when I saw that Bellwether had launched a new whole-milk ricotta made solely from their lovely Jersey cows.
Bellwether’s Ricotta is unbelievably creamy with a buttery, sweet flavor. I could see it dolloped on top of homemade pizza or pasta, or even served as a dessert with some honey and pistachios on top.
We talked to Liam Callahan, the son of Cindy Callahan (who founded Bellwether Farms in 1986), and he explained why this Cultured Whole Jersey Ricotta is so special. Unlike their traditional sheep and cow’s milk ricotta, which is made from the whey of their aged cheeses, this ricotta starts with the rich, whole milk of their happy Jersey cows. Some producers who make ricotta in this way add vinegar to start the cheese-making process, however it can sometimes result in a grainy texture. So, instead of using vinegar, the Callahans culture the milk and let the bacteria naturally produced the acidity needed. The result is a ricotta that is smooth as buttah.
5) Mt. Townsend Creamery’s Seastack
I was delighted to happen upon Mt. Townsend’s booth, tucked away in the corner of the cheese pavilion. Mt. Townsend is a small creamery located in Port Townsend, along Washington’s Northwest coast.
Their original recipe, Seastack, immediately caught my eye with its delicious looking texture. Gooey and creamy, like a melty triple cream brie, around the outer edge, and soft and velvety, like a chevre, at the core. And the flavor of this soft ripened cow’s milk cheese was fantastic. It has been described as “a taste of the ocean,” and I could not agree more. Seastack is salty and fresh, with a hint of piquant earthiness imparted from the sea salt and vegetable ash that it is rolled in prior to aging.
Mmm, all this cheese talk has given me a serious craving…I’m so weak. Cheese is like my kryptonite.
(All videography by Christina Robles)