Cheese of the Week is a 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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Camellia is produced by Redwood Hill, the country’s first certified-humane goat dairy. Founded in Northern California’s Sonoma County in 1968, its 300 goats contribute milk to natural artisanal cheeses, yogurts, kefir, and other specialty dairy products.
Camellia is a Camembert-style cheese, and will most likely look familiar to those who are fans of bloomy-rind cheese. When it’s young it has a mild, buttery flavor and a firm texture, but as it ages, its bloomy rind ripens the cheese from the outside in, making it more rich, creamy, and tangy.
"To make great cheese you need great milk, and at Redwood Hill they have goats that are really taken care of, producing fantastic milk," said Hook. "That really comes across in the cheese: There are some hints of floralness, a little bit of acidity, and a little bit of sweetness, but not too much. It’s very well-balanced, with a lush mouthfeel and lots of minerality."
The cheese is best enjoyed at room temperature, paired with fresh apples or pears. Hook recommends eating this cheese the day it’s purchased, as it won’t do well in plastic wrap because it needs to breathe. He’s a big fan of the pinot gris from California’s J Vineyards, which complements the minerality nicely.