Cheese of The Week is a new weekly feature on The Daily Meal, drawing on the expertise of internationally renowned cheese expert and consultant Raymond Hook. What follows is based on an interview with Hook.
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Cypress Grove is best known for its Humboldt Fog goat cheese, but this other cheese in their canon, creamy and loaded with truffle flavor, is certainly one that’s worth knowing as well.
This soft-ripened cheese was actually created by accident, by Cypress Grove founder Mary Keehn. She took some fresh goat cheese, or chèvre, and added in truffles, but the resulting product had a flavor that highlighted neither the chèvre nor the truffles. In a last-ditch effort, she inoculated the cheese with mold, and allowed it to become a bloomy-rind cheese, fresh-ripened in this case. Over time she perfected the formula, molding the cheese into 3-pound wheels and allowing it to ripen for about 12 to 14 days, and the end result was the creamy, earthy cheese we see today.
Cheese has that creamy, crumbly, almost fudgy consistency and floral minerality of the finest goat cheeses, with a potent but not overpowering earthy flavor and fragrance added by the black summer truffles. As the cheese continues to age (its total life span is about 10 weeks), the outermost layer inside the rind continues to break down in a process called proteolysis, which gives it a more "melty" consistency and adds to the cheese’s complexity.
Whereas most other cheeses that incorporate truffles (like pecorino) are aged, the fact that this remains so young really helps the truffles maintain a lot of their character. "A lot of the perfume of the truffle goes away in aged cheese," according to Hook. "But even though it’s young, it’s still one of the few soft-ripened goat cheeses that can stand up to a red wine," he added. A young zinfandel or pinot noir is recommended.
Click here to see a recipe for Truffle Tremor steak butter.