Last night I fell in love...with Humboldt Fog.
I was attracted to its quietly handsome look right away: the distinct line of ash (not mold) winding like a dark river through its bright-white core, the greyed ousy Brie-like edges, the ashy, edible rind.
"Is that Humboldt Fog?" I whispered to the Cheese Assistant, pushing down my shades and nodding toward the tasting plate.
"Uh huh" she said, looking busy.
"I have to try it!" I say, emphatically enough to signal resistance will be futile.
"OK...just a minute!". A steely stare. "Here you are."
My first taste of this godlike goat cheese is from a cheap white plastic knife, but its love at first bite. The cheese is very ripe, with lots of ousy edge, but its smoothness is unbelievable. I'm enthralled. I grab a large wedge and head for the till.
I get home and take tons of photos of my new love. None of them capture its beauty.
So what's so spectacular about Humboldt Fog that someone who comes from a family of Stilton makers would fall so hard? First of, its appearance calls to me in the strangest way. Its quietly exotic and that twisting river of vegetable ash beckons culinary adventure. Its also an incredible combination of tangy, crumbly, fresh goat cheese, and ousy ripeness together in one phenomenally smooth goat cheese. The creamy, buttery smoothness cries out quality.
Made in Arcata in Humboldt County, Cypress Grove Chevre uses goats milk that comes from a handful of small, local, pasture-based farms. (The dairies are paid based on milk quality to encourage cleanliness and high protein percentages.) Humboldt Fog is an American creation and a product of its unique foggy coastal California environment. This cheese has won a lot of awards and is one of the few American cheeses that has broken into the International Cheese market.
If you haven't tried this cheese, get thee to a cheesemonger!
So, what do you do with Humboldt Fog? We ate it with baguette and Honey Moon Viognier, a sweet white with honeysuckle tones. It was completely addictive, we couldn't stop ourselves. "This is a great cheese" we kept saying, cutting off another slice and licking our fingers. I really didn't want to cook with it. When I went in for another piece today, my regular Cheese guy was there, "So...what did you do with it?" he wanted to know. His recommendation was to cover it with chopped nuts (huh?) or put a slice on baguette and broil it. So what did I do with it?
Sorry for the dark shot...it was late by the time I actually cooked. It had to be something simple that wouldn't interfere with the cheese's flavor. I tried a tomato and it totally didn't work for me. So I ended up using the last of my green garlic, cooked in a little butter, with linguini and a handful of organic baby spinach. Topped with an ashy sliver and dotted with crumbs of Humboldt Fog.