Anyone who knows me knows I love animals, but, as with everything, there are exceptions. There are animals I just don’t like that others adore. Like rabbits (useless animals) and monkeys (too much like humans). And goats. I am not a fan of goats, mainly because they’re not very cuddly and have tiny eyes and scary teeth that make them look evil.
The only redeeming quality about goats, however, is that their milk can be used to make some badass cheeses. One of my all-time favorite cheeses is the award-winning Humboldt Fog, a soft, mold-ripened goat cheese made by Cypress Grove Chevre in Arcata, CA, about 300 miles north of San Francisco. I didn’t think I’d find it all the way out here in the DC area, so when I saw it in the display case at Westover Market the other day, I snapped up a quarter pound of it. I don’t remember the last time I’d ever been so excited about cheese.
What makes this cheese amazing is that it has a mild, delicate goat flavor, not like the in-your-face tartness of the straight-up chevre logs you can buy at the supermarket. To give you an idea of what it looks and tastes like: If a wheel of Brie and a log of chevre got together and had a baby, it would be named Humboldt Fog.
It has a bloomy, white exterior like Brie, and features a line of edible, tasteless vegetable ash running through the center, which reminds me of the earthquake faults that Northern California is so (in)famous for. There’s a fresh goat cheese core enveloped by a runny, shell, and just the mere sight of it sends me into a tizzy. Like, a “swim-in-it-like-Scrooge-McDuck-does-with-gold-coins” kind of a tizzy.
The moment you bite into it, you immediately want to reach for some crisp pears, a baguette and a glass of cava and lay out in the sun on a picnic blanket with your love muffin. Diet be damned, this stuff is worth gaining a few pounds.
One thing I didn’t understand, though was the ash. Apparently, the ash is used not only to give the cheese a striking appearance, but also to give it an alkaline element so its acidity doesn’t inhibit ripening. Hm. I learned something new today.
So how does it taste? It’s a beautifully light and mild cheese that has just the right amount of tang, and when it’s matured, the rind is a bit peppery, which is a surprise. If I could buy a wheel of it and just eat that every day for a year, I think I’d die happy. Although I probably would die because my cholesterol would go through the roof.
To give you an idea of how much I heart Humboldt Fog, I ate nearly all four ounces in one sitting during lunch at work, and when a large chunk of it accidentally fell on the floor, I picked it up, blew it off, and ate it anyway. Five-second rule! I’m not too proud of that, but hey, there it is.
If you love goat cheese and Brie, and you happen to see this at your local grocery store, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend shelling out a few dinars for a taste.
Maybe goats aren’t so bad after all. At least these guys are entertaining: