As soon as you pull this mold-ripened goat’s milk square out of the fridge, its undulating surface starts to grow super-soft and supple; when cut open, that thick creamline will start oozing out. That softness—combined with its captivating wrinkly rind—renders the diminutive cube undeniably photogenic.
It all starts in Marin County, California, on Toluma Farms—a propery of rolling green hills that David Jablons and Tamara Hicks purchased in 2003. The duo began sheep dairying four years later, and with some help from local grants and organizations built Tomales Farmstead Creamery in 2012. Kenne was released as the creamery’s first cheese. Today the repertoire includes goat, sheep, and mixed-milk cheeses, made using farmstead milk from Toluma’s 100 East Friesian sheep and 200 goats. Creamy Jersey cow’s milk is also sometimes used, sourced from a neighbor’s farm two miles down the road.
David and Tamara traveled several times to Italy to witness production of their favorite cheeses, and were particularly inspired by La Tur. Tomales Farmstead Creamery cheesemaker Anne Marie, who had worked at various farmstead creameries in France, was also inspired by the cheeses she made there. Kenne is a blend of these ideas.
The secret to its wrinkly beauty lies in a particular yeast called Geotrichum candidum, which Tomales’ cheesemakers add to fresh goat milk before transforming it into curds and then cheese. After five to seven days of aging, the yeast’s action begins to produce the unique exterior surface of freshly-molded cheeses, and after an additional week at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit the squares are ready for sale.
Aromas of hard cider and fresh dough seep from this cream-colored cheese. The fondantlike paste surrounded by a fat, oozing creamline becomes fluffy and mouth-coating on the palate, yielding flavors of fermentation, salted pretzel and rye.
Pair this with figs: fig jam, dried figs, or a fig-forward wine.