Okay I know not all of you live in California. Knowing that you may not be experiencing the crazy spring weather we are (I swear it normally rains more than 50% of the time from now until April), and that not all of you will be able to head on over to Petaluma two weekends from now for the California Artisan Cheese Fest. I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite new cheese producers that will be at the festival. Not to say na na na na na nah, though. I’m telling you so even if you can’t make it to Northern California’s dairy country March 22nd-24th to taste all the deliciousness, you’ll be able to take a little piece of the party home from Penny Royal’s website. Think of it as a distant goodie bag.
Then, I’ll tell you about an event I’m co-teaching at the festival in case you are in the area.
First, I’ll like you meet one of my favorite new California producers, Penny Royal. That beauty in the photo up there is their Boont Corners. It’s a semi-firm cheese made with the raw milk from goats that run around on Navarro Winery’s property. Lucky, lucky goats. It’s still in small production, so If you can’t find it near you, order some on up. The cheese is made from the milk of the goats who help make the wine. How do they help make the wine? By nibbling on the weeds in the vineyards and by providing fertilizer for the grapes. Considering they also provide milk for this amazing cheese, I’d say these guys earn their keep.
The cheese paste is off-white, and the rind has a light paper coating that keeps the center smooth and soft. Biting into Boont Corners reveals flavors of sweet fresh milk, a light lactic-acid/creme-fraiche like tang, fresh grass, and a hint of caramel. That’s the 2-month in the photo, anyhow. Add some more herbal flavors to the 4-month, and a lot more pepper to the 6-month, and you’ve got the flavor profiles just about covered.
Sarah Cahn Bennett is the owner and works a fair amount in the winery too, and Erika Scharfen is the cheesemaker and herd co-owner of this tiny farm in Boonville, Anderson Valley. They make soft, semi-firm, and uber aged cheeses, and all that I’ve tried have been excellent. So far this season only their aged ones are ready to go, but they should have some softies ready for sampling soon.
All right. If you do happen to be in the area, I and two friends will be teaching at the California Artisan Cheese Festival Saturday, March 23rd. Normally I talk about enjoying cheese in its raw form. But on Saturday, we’ll be talking about how to cook it. The session is from 1:30 to 3:30, and I’d love to see you there!
“ On-line to On-plate: Bloggers Cook with Cheese Presenters: Kirstin Jackson, author of It’s Not You, It’s Brie: Unwrapping America’s Unique Culture of Cheese, and Stephanie Stiavetti and Garret McCord, co-authors of Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese
In an approachable, hands-on tasting session, these three cheese writers, cookbook authors, and bloggers will break down the basics of cooking with cheese so you’ll leave not only with titillated tastebuds, but equipped to take your own favorite artisan cheese to the next level in your home kitchen. They’ll divulge what they learned as trained cooks and recipe developers about cooking with this sometimes fussy product, and talk about how to consider and identify cheese’s flavors and textures to pair them with foods that make them shine. You’ll be guided through tasting three cheeses in their fresh form with pairings, and two of them in cooked dishes that utilize the session’s teachings.”
And apologies for not keeping up with posting as often as I’d like, dear readers. These past two weeks had me hosting events, teaching classes meeting project deadlines, and driving from Oakland to Sonoma and Napa alone four times! Not complaining- oh my oh my, how beautiful the wine country’s mustard is this time of year! Just know I’ve been writing less only because I’ve been so busy, and well, a girls gotta fund her ad-free blog writing somehow. I’m thinking of you, dear readers, the cheese, and will be announcing more events here soon (I’ll be in Chicago for the first time the first week of April!).