As I have mentioned in nearly all my blogs thus far (I can’t help it we get really excited for warm weather in the northern states), we are headed into Spring and Summer. This means we are about to have a wealth of cheeses that are going to be in prime form. In particular, the goat cheeses really start to blossom this time of year due to the fact that the goats have more to choose from concerning their dining choices. Also to be kept in mind is that most goat cheeses do not need a long period to age because they are so delicious at a young, fresh age so when you buy them in summer you are really going to taste the characteristics associated with the location that the animals graze in.
As I pondered all of these things over the last week of warm weather, I knew I had an upcoming Sunday off (my favorite day to be off), and I knew I just needed to have cheese and fruit for lunch with a glass of wine while sitting on the patio with the sun shining. I also wanted to have something fresh, something whose flavors just ooze spring and summer. As I was standing at the wine table sampling (after work of course) it came to me… Cypress Grove Purple Haze Goat Cheese would be my Sunday cheese! It has won awards at the American Cheese Society Conference, the California State Fair, the U.S. Cheese Championship, and the World Cheese Championship. I quite often sneak a bite or two of their Humboldt Fog or Truffle Tremor when I need to cut it for a customer, and more often than not in doing so I convince myself to buy some for my cheese stash at home, but for some reason I often overlook Purple Haze.
Cypress Grove is a California artisan goat cheese company located in Humboldt County in northern California. They were one of the first artisan goat cheese companies to develop commercial goat cheese production in the United States, and it may have been a slow start, but they are certainly flourishing now. They have won too many awards to list here, but I assure you each award they have received was and is well-deserved.
Purple Haze is a small, disk-shaped goat cheese that has lavender and wild fennel pollen rubbed on it, and it is also in the cheese. What I really love about the lavender and wild fennel pollen is that even though you can see and smell the fact that it is a large part of the cheese, you do not just taste the lavender and fennel pollen, you also taste the actual cheese and you can taste that it is high quality, fresh goat milk that was used to create this masterpiece. There is a perfect balance that was struck between the clean, slightly acidic, tangy taste of the goat milk and the wild, springy flavors that come from the lavender and fennel pollen. It smells and tastes like Spring. It is creamy and yet has the perfect texture to allow for gently crumbling onto a classic summer salad of mixed baby greens, fresh berries (my favorite is strawberries), nuts, and a nice vinaigrette that is just lightly drizzled over everything.
I did not make a salad this time, but rather paired this jewel on a plate with freshly sliced strawberries, fresh cantaloupe, pecans, and Spanish Marcona Almonds. I drizzled a local honey ever so lightly around the outer edge of the disk and let it ooze onto the plate and into the strawberries. I opened a Riesling and soaked in the sun as I delved into the fresh fruit and cheese. It was delicious! The honey worked really well with the cheese and cantaloupe together. On its own I did not really like the cantaloupe with the cheese, but the honey just adds a tiny hint of sweetness that really helps elevate the flavors of everything and brings a little something special to the cantaloupe.
This is the perfect cheese for a warm spring day, or a cold day when you want to dream of spring, or an Easter cheese plate, and I am feeling adventuresome so I may even use Cypress Grove’s recipe to make Purple Haze Cheesecake!
Stay tuned for more thoughts on Easter cheese plate picks. Purple Haze will definitely be one of the cheeses on mine!
Help Crystal earn her CCP at the American Cheese Society conference this summer. Vote for Crystal.