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Artisan in CA

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Well into the throws of the holiday season, I am reminded yet again of a tradition that I have loved for many years. I am very fond of numerous varieties of cheeses during the holidays, but the one that is near and dear to my heart is an artisan cheese from Northern CA. It has become more widely available than it was years ago due to its popularity. Across the country, small-scale dairy farmers and cheese makers are creating wonderful cheeses to rival those made in Europe. One of these cheeses is Humboldt Fog. It’s an Artisan Chèvre that has gained front and center place on my family’s New Year’s Eve appetizer spread, for many years. It contains a central layer and outer covering of ash; it ripens with a soft, white interior. When cut, it is reminiscent of the early morning fogs that are famous in Humboldt County, CA. Humboldt Fog is made by Cypress Grove Chèvre, which is owned and operated in Humboldt by a mother and daughter team, Mary Keehn and Malorie McCurdy. These ladies have an enviable passion for their work that has been rewarded by national awards, great status, and a steadily growing business. American farmstead cheeses often command a hefty price due to their limited production, but one bite will convince anyone that the luxury is worth the cost for this outstanding cheese. It isn’t a cheese that I like to incorporate into recipes or really even experiment with much at all. I like to enjoy its remarkably flavorful, smooth and velvety texture in the most simplest of ways; I spread it on a toasted baguette with a little orange blossom honey and a drop of balsamic glaze. When it is consumed at room temperature, as it warms and blooms, it becomes incredibly creamy. The cheese’s texture and flavor have earned it a special place on my Holiday table. If you ever have the opportunity to try it, you will not regret it. To my Winona Foods family and our wonderful customers, I wish for all of you, a very joyful, healthy Holiday Season and a very Happy, prosperous New Year.

Steve Diana