Cheese Shines at The Fanciness

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Willapa Hills Pluvius (courtesy of Willapa Hills website)

The Fancy Food Show rolled it’s huge, convention center self into San Francisco this week, bringing with it Guy Fieri, a demonstrator or two wearing skirts shorter and heels higher than Tom Cruise standing next to Nicole Kidman, and… amazing cheese. There were all types of cheese. Blue cheddars were stacked next to huge firm Alpine wheels, and puddling, soft cow’s milk cheeses threatened to ooze into tiny, upright spicy sheep’s milk wheels that were innocently sitting next them.

It was a fine, fine time to do research. To ensure that my cheese palate stayed fresh, I diligently took breaks between eating dairy goods to cleanse with gluten-free cookies and Poco Dolce’s olive oil chocolate bars. Later, I shared a drink with some of my favorite cheeseheads from around the country at Rogue Brewery in North Beach. It was a good day.

Here are some of my favorite cheeses that I tasted at the convention- these are ones that shined especially bright. I’m skipping some of the classics that I’ve talked about before on “It’s Not You, it’s Brie” so I’ll have room to mention others that I haven’t yet swooned over properly. In the future, I hope to get to more that I don’t have the space to mention here- because there were many.

Marieke Gouda, Foenegreek– there’s often a stigma against making flavored goudas in the high-end American cheese world since herbs and such can be used to cover up flaws in inferior products. Not here. Fresh milk and a little Fenugreek make an already compelling cheese pop.

Rogue River Flora Nelle– a new blue- funkier, sweeter than Rogue’s others, with a slightly crunchy bite like fleur de sel sprinkled on a dish before a chef sends it to a table. Not sure when will be released.

Mozzarella Company Blanca Bianca– a soft, fresh, very young cheese with a washed rind. Has a steely, mineral finish and tang that is just aching for BLT season.

Tumalo Farms Jewell– a bloomy-rind, creamy, lively cow and goat blend. Creamy and lemony with a soft finish.

Kriek cheese from Belgium, Jacquy Cange- raw cow’s milk, semi-firm cheese washed with the cherry Kreik lambic beer from Belgium. Lightly fruity and complex.

Willapa Hills Pluvius– semi-soft, with fresh butter, nut and lemon flavors. Surface ripened, with a thick velvety layer between the brown rind and slightly crumbly center.

Toma Brusca with Juniper- cow’s milk, studded with Juniper. Like a milk gin and tonic. Amazing. Sharp, but charms the tongue. A little goes a long way.

Ricotta Stagionata- a ricotta salata made with sheep’s milk whey. Classic. Creamy and buttery like manouri. Snow white.

Did you make it to the Fancy Food Show? Any cheeses that shined brightly for you?