My friends Sean and Michelle showed up to my holiday party with the perfect gift: Three wonderful cheeses they discovered at Venissimo Cheese, their neighborhood shop in San Diego.
First up: On the far left is the Humboldt Fog, an increasingly-popular goat's milk surface-ripened cheese from Cypress Grove. The vein of edible ash is the signature mark of this rich, creamy, and delicious monster. (I'm a big fan of Cypress Grove's cheeses -- especially the Fog and the Truffle Tremor, one of the most spectacularly decadent and knee-buckling cheeses I've encountered.) Venissimo's notes: California's top seller, with a ribbon of edible ash. Herbaceous & Tangy. Recommended Wines: Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Dry Rose, White Burgundy, Super Tuscan, or a wheat beer.
In the middle is a Goat Sage Cheddar from Spring Hill Cheese Co. in Petaluma, CA. The distinctive goat's milk tanginess melds beautifully with the sage, creating a zesty and robust kick... what an earthy delight! Venissimo's notes: Organic, pasture-fed, infused with sage, herbaceous and fresh, perfect on pizza. Recommended Wines: Chardonnay, Champagne.
Finally we have the real zinger, the Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar from Carr Valley Cheese in Wisconsin. This white cheddar has huge smokiness and tang, followed by the slightly tart and sweet cranberries, ending with quite a bit of heat. Venissimo's notes: Studded with cranberries, infused with chipotle, sweet, BBQ sauce flavor, incredible melted! Recommended Wine: Zinfandel.
Served with Fuyu Persimmon, Medjool Dates, and water crackers, this sampler was the perfect year-end treat. Thanks, Sean and Michelle! You're the best.