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From Swiss Buffalos to Blue: My 5 Top Picks of the Fancy Food Show

A peek at Fresca Italia's Fanciness case, packed with rich, soft, Italian water buffalo cheeses.

A peek at Fresca Italia's Fanciness case, packed with rich, soft, Italian water buffalo cheeses.

Last week the Fancy Food Show, otherwise known as The Fanciness, stormed into San Francisco. It brought with it rain, the onset of a new president, tons of stuff covered in sea salt and caramel, nut butters mixed with ev-er-y-thang- (maple syrup, chili, pumpkin butter, coffee) and, cheese.

It also brought new delicious discoveries from home and abroad that this girl is very eager to share.

Below are my top 5 picks at this year's Fanciness. Some are new, some are new to me.


Valley Ford Grazin Girl

Since I wrote an LA Times article about dairy farmers turned cheesemakers featuring the creamery, Valley Ford has been one of my favorite California dairies. It's a family affair: Karen Bianchi-Moreda launched the creamery and was the original cheesemaker- now her sons make the cheese and take care of the cows. When I tried their blue newbie at the food show, I loved it. I also loved the idea of another California blue. Silky, mellow, buttery, and made with the milk of their pastured cows, Grazin Girl is our new California blue, otherwise named here, Blue Velvet.


Vacherin Fribourgeois L'Ancienne (from Colombia cheese distributor)

A classic cheese of Switzerland, but new to me, Vacherin Fribourgeois L'Ancienne is a raw-milk tomme made in Fribourg. It can be pasteurized or raw, but the particular one I tasted was made by Marsens Vuippens and was raw and delicious. Aged for 4 to 6 months, the rind is firm like an older cheese, but the paste is creamy and silky. It tastes like a sophisticated mac n' cheese.


Buffalo Berglinde

Switzerland hits it out of the park again. Truly- this time with milk from 40 buffalos living in a Swiss National Park because cheesemaker Beat Meier fell in love with the animal and, you know, just brought them over from Italy.  The cheese is rich, sweet, and has notes of creme fraiche, and unsurprisingly, is brought into the country by the wonderful importer Caroline Hostettler.

Moonside Creamery Grady's Wheel

Buffalo again? Buffalo again! Grady's Wheel is a new cheese made with cow and buffalo milk from Sonoma. Its white paste is rich, and blessed with hazelnut and sour cream flavors. A perfect little wheel from a new creamery. Aged and firm and a must-try.


Consorcio de los Quesos Mahon

Most Mahon that makes it to the states is pasteurized. And it can be tasty as hell. This Mahon though, is raw milk and tasty and hell and very different from the other guys all over. While other Mahon is flaky and aged, this version is younger, lighter, and a little floral and grassy. Plus, it doesn't have the classic red, olive-oil and paprika-rubbed rind. Instead, this one is lightly dusty gray. A whole new year, a whole new Mahon.