Favorite New Finds at the California Artisan Cheese Fest

GypsyRoseCheese (1 of 1)

The last couple of weeks have been particularly tasty. The weekend of the 14th I drove to the Santa Cruz mountains to man the cheese station at Ridge’s Montebello release, chat up collectors and sippers, and share and sample the California cheese love. Early last week I stopped by the UC Alumni Travel Association to talk about a future culinary trip to Ireland (news en route!) and worked on a little writing from my recent UK and Irish trip. Later in the week I got to taste through some newer Oregon wines – Teutonic and Fausse Piste at work. Then, this Sunday I headed to Petaluma for the California Artisan Cheese Festival. My taste buds have been thoroughly charmed.

Here are a few of my favorite finds from these recent roamings.

Gypsy Rose Cheese

Gypsy Rose Cheese

A family of three living in Valley Ford, Gypsy Rose has been making goat cheese since 2013. Yet it wasn’t until this cheese fest that I actually got a chance to try their goods (pictured at top). They generally focus on raw goat’s milk cheese- washed rind. Made with goat milk from their neighbors, Pug’s Leap, Gypsy’s wheels are wonderful. Goat’s milk washed rind cheeses can easily take over one’s tongue, but theirs finish clean and bright. Two that especially warmed my cheesy heart was their Django, a mixed cow and goat’s milk citrusy semi-soft cheese, and their creamier, all-goat Rosebud. Miss Cheesemonger took some lovely pictures of the family during a visit lately.

sheep's milk ice cream

Haverton Hill Ice Cream

Though I looked longingly through the windows while passing by a shop selling sheep’s milk ice cream before when traveling through Wales (this was at the point in my trip where I was eating near a half-a-pound of cheese per day and thought it maybe wise that I didn’t go in) , this was the first time I’ve actually tasted sheep’s milk ice cream. It’s damn tasty. Sheep’s milk is very high in butterfat, meaning that the ice cream tends to whip up a little richer than with cow’s milk, and it coats your tongue in a velvety layer as it melts.

sheep's milk ice creamThe ladies of the Adiego family who milk the sheep. If this picture isn’t proof that ice cream gives you a glow, I don’t know what is. Eat up. Organic milk, eggs, and sugar.

Teutonic & Fausse Piste Winery, Oregon

Teutonic focuses on Germanic varieties and Fausse Piste specializes in Rhone grapes. Teutonic winery was launched by a sommelier responsible for the largest German wine list in the Pacific North West who generally narrows their scope to wines grown on the Mosel slopes. Their Pinot Noirs are lovely, but their Pinot Meunier (the third Champagne grape) and their Edelzwicker blend- Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Sylvaner, Pinot Noir and Blanc- were my favorites. Fausse Piste was started by a chef who wanted to make food friendly wines who honors hands-off methods, lets his grapes spontaneously ferment, and ages in old or large-format barrels. If you’re of the mind that natural wines are more austere than flavorful, Fausse Piste offers a opposite example. I loved their Roussane and Syrah. These I tasted at Solano Cellars, not the cheese fest.

SonomaCider (1 of 1)Sonoma Cider

Dwight is the cider-maker for Sonoma Cider. He and his wife launched the company in 2013 and have been pressing apples into dry, off-dry, and sweet cider ever since. They’re about medium-sized in production and have a tasting room in Healdsburg that will let you taste their basics, and their seasonal blends like Sasparilla Vanilla.

Baeltane Brewing

A micro-brewery in Novato, California, Baeltane makes Belgian, French, and west coast ales. And  their skills show especially in the Belgian, where subtle flavors aren’t masked by over-sugaring. Their porters are just as solid, and their Biere de Garde is fresh and session-style. Tasting room open five days a week.

Those were just some of my favorite finds from this past week!

Did you taste something new at the Fest that you loved?