Sunday, February 21, 2010

An Evening with Some Queens of the Cheese World

On Saturday evening, still a bit full from our Calabrian cooking class the night before, Alex, Cass and I made our way back to the Cheese School of San Francisco for a tasting program held in conjunction with the 8th Annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference. The Conference was being hosted by Sheana Davis of The Epicurean Connection, with whom we have taken a number of classes at the Cheese School. In addition, Sheana is the producer of Délice de la Vallée, a wonderful blend of cow and goat milk.

We arrived just before the 6:00PM starting time which was wise since the room filled up quickly.

After grabbing some glasses of wine – Highway 12 blends were being poured, together with some beers – and saying hello to Sheana and the Cheese School gang, we got in line and began to make our way through the gauntlet of temptations.

There was quite a lineup of producers and importers represented at the tables lined up around the room, including:

~ Carr Valley (Wisconsin)
~ Cypress Grove Chevre (Arcata, CA)
~ Délice de la Vallée (Petaluma, CA)
~ Daphne Zepos (New York -- importer of Comté from the Jura Mountains in France)
~ Harley Farms (Pescadero, CA)
~ Landaff Creamery (Vermont – aged at the Cellars at Jasper Hill)
~ Roth Käse (Wisconsin)
~ Upland’s Cheese (Wisconsin)
~ Von Trapp Farmstead (Vermont – aged at Jasper Hill Cellars)
~ Widmer’s Cheese Cellars (Wisconsin)
~ Zingerman’s Creamery (Michigan)

Alex, Cass and I were most excited to have the chance to meet Dee Harley of Harley Farms and Daphne Zepos since we love Harley Farms and their Monet cheese, and the Comté that Daphne imports is probably our #1 favorite cheese – especially when served with a glass of Rivesaltes Ambré from Domaine Fontanel, a fabulous combination introduced to us by Janet Fletcher at a class at the Cheese School a couple of years ago.

Here are the cheeses we enjoyed (apologies to Sheana, but somehow I did not get a picture of the Délice de la Vallée station). Of the aged cheeses my favorite remains Daphne's Comté, although the Carr Valley selections were also particularly good.

l drought coming up over the next few weeks – we will not be back until our “Springtime Cheeses, Loire Valley Wines” class on April 23.


Simona said...

I like the cheese with the petals. I remember it from a previous post. Of course, I like Cypress Grove a lot. An interesting Buttermilk Blue. I have not yet tried to make a blue cheese.

gastronomichael said...

Dear Simona:

Thanks for your comment. You have sharp eyes and a good memory -- I have to confess that the picture of the Harley Farms "Monet" (the one with the flower petals) I used above was one I took at a similar drop in night at the Cheese School in 2008. It was the biggest wheel of Monet I have ever seen and had just been cut - it was stunning. They were serving the same Monet on Saturday night as you can see from the above picture of Dee Harley, but it was a smaller version. Still, the flower petals agains the white goat cheese are quite striking no matter what the size.

We did not care much for the Roth Kase "Buttermilk Blue" we had on Saturday night. If you would like to try some of the blue cheeses from past tastings that we have enjoyed the most, among them would be the sheep milk "Crozier Blue" from J & L Grubb in Ireland (see and the cows milk "Signature Blue" from Tasmanian Heritage on Tasmania (see: I have been able to find both at Cheese Plus in the past.

Ciao, Mike

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