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Spring Cheese: My Top 5. Fresh, Light, with Regional Love

Baetje’s Coeur de la Creme

Baetje’s Coeur de la Creme

My Top 5 Spring Cheese Picks

In my book I say that if I were to ever come back as a cheese I'd want to be burrata. Lightly stretched under hot water, then massaged with cream and kept cozy in a plush mozzarella blanket, being burrata translates to spending a spectacular day at the spa. But I've been thinking. There's also spring cheese.

With bright mustard sprouting in wine country fields and happy baby goats and lambs bouncing about pastures, I've been debating whether I would rather be spring cheese than burrata. It's a big question. Here's why.

Spring cheese, and early summer cheese, has the benefits of being made from the best seasonal milk around. The flavor of the green hills and wildflowers that the animals are prancing on goes directly into the milk (you are what you eat...) and makes the cheese especially delicious.

And then.....

Cheesemakers especially in love with celebrating spring milk and their region go a little further than just making cheese with the milk. They dress it up a little. While I debate whether I'd rather be born burrata or spring cheese, here is a list of my favorite top 5 cheeses that celebrate the flavors of spring. Some are just young and taste of the field and others are wrapped with regional plants or herbs. They tend to be domestic because, well, if you want fresh, close just makes sense.

Baetje Feta on a spring cheese plate

Baetje Feta on a spring cheese plate

Piece from the heart

Piece from the heart

My Top 5 Spring Cheese Picks

1. Fresh goat cheeses surrounded in herbs like Baetje's Coeur de la Crème, pictured above. Rich, made with the family's own goat milk, then patted down with Herbs de Provence. Beautiful on a cheese plate. You can also look a little further out to Fleur Verte and try one of the largest fresh goat cheeses made in France.

2. Cowgirl Creamery's St Pat & Pierce Pt:Those of us in California jump on the chance to try Cowgirl's seasonal releases. St Pat is almost out of season (grab it if you can) and Pierce Pt is just making its entrance. Demonstrated by their yellow, buttery-hued interior, both are made with rich Jersey cow's milk. St Pat is a cute, dense little creamy bloomy rind that's wrapped in local nettles as it ages. Sweet, with light green and white pepper notes. Pierce is rolled in local California herbs and flowers like chamomile and calendula.

3. Zingerman's Lincoln Log: Zingerman's works with small Michigan farms to get some of the best organic goat's milk around Anne Arbor. Meaning you taste Michigan's green pastures in this very lightly-aged cheese. Its made Bucheron style so it has a lightly bloomy rind perfect for holding the cheese together when you bake it for chevre chaud.

4. Bellwether Farms Whey Ricotta: It's always great, but in the spring and summer its amazing because it takes on a lightly grassy note that speaks of the Sonoma hills and of the farm's happy grazing sheep. Silky, buttery and savory. I like serving this simple and baked. Does someone sell whey sheep's milk ricotta near you? Try it too. It's a blessing.

5. Looking Glass Creamery Ellington Trifecta: This pyramid is made in the classic Loire Valley style- with a plush rind, velvety layer under the rind, and a soft flaky center. But it's not a goat cheese like most Loire Valley cheeses- rather it's a lactic acid set cow's milk cheese. Fresh and less tangy than goat's milk, this one is delicoius served with simple sides like peppered pecans or fresh fruit.

A little note: I'm also super excited about my seasonal cheese Ricotta Workshop July 9th in Berkeley. In it we'll learn how to make 2 types of ricotta (whole milk and cream and ricotone) and then make 3 easy recipes with the cheese we just made taking advantage of seasonal local produce. Perfect for easy spring and summer entertaining. A few spots still open.