Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Cheese for a Wednesday - pt. 31 Camillia, a Farmer's Market Find
As the weather changes and the sun stays out longer, my tastes spin toward Sauvignon Blanc, Stainless Steel Charddonay and goat cheese. It's kind of a cliche, but it's how my palate and brain work. Crisp, clean flavors help keep summer from getting too funky (though some might argue that goat cheese is funky enough...). Another thing I love about summer is the Farmer's Market. Around here, it's open all year round, but there is something much more festive about buying apricots and fava beans than rutabega and turnips.
So, the last time I went to the Farmer's Market with my re-usable bag and steel toed boots to protect myself from the profusion of strollers, I stopped by the Redwood Hill Farm stall and picked up a hockey puck sized Camembert style goat cheese named Camellia. The dairy is up in Sebastopol (far from Los Angeles), but I got a chance to talk with a few people who had just been up at the farm to see the new kids. I really got a sense that they really care for their herd, who all have names.
Camellia is one of their favorite goats, and the cheese certainly looks like a Camembert (other than the goat on the label). The bloomy rind has the appropriate ammonia-lite scent, and there is a milky-ness to the nose of the paste. What's different is the bone white color of the paste - normal for goat cheese but weird if you are expecting the butter yellow paste of a traditional Camembert. The flavor has a wee bit of goat-y funk, but really it just tastes sweet and creamy with just a touch of salty. Pretty fantastic! We tasted ours when the cheese was still young, but it still had a nice richness to it, though it didn't ever get really gooey even when we let it set at room temp for over an hour, but it did get nicely soft. This cheese has won several gold medals at competitions, so other people think it's good too!
I saw this for sale up in Santa Barbara wine country at the local market, and I'll be enjoying it again the next time I head to the Farmer's Market during my continued celebration of longer days and warmer nights!