I love cheeses, all kinds; domestic, imported, fresh, soft-ripening, washed-rind, semi-soft, crumbly and hard, single, double and triple creme, cow, goat and sheep’s milk. We cheese lovers each consume approximately 34 pounds of the product on average each year! It’s a mouthful, and I know you’re likely to love cheese as much as I do!
I’m absolutely in love with goats’ cheese, and as you might remember, it was a French phenomenon here in the United States during the 1980s. It was then that I opened a cheese shop in San Francisco along with my restaurant and wine bar, where I offered cheeses from around the world. This made creation of cheese plates a daily labor of love.
One day, Laura Chenel (America's first commercial producer of goat cheese) appeared at my shop with little ribboned samples of her new chèvre (French for “goat”), and our version of the delicious “California Goat Cheese Salad” was born.
I love creating cheese boards. Beginning with a triple creme (75%+ butterfat), Brillat Savarin or St Andre, they’re as close as you can get to butter, as well as Cambozola, soft ripening, ethereal and blue. There is vegetable ash running a line through the white center of the elegant Humboldt Fog, Cypress Grove’s signature cheese. The same line is present in the French Morbier, which separates the morning and evening cow’s milk. Aged Italian Fontina has a semi-soft texture and a nutty herbaceous flavor. Popular today from the La Mancha region of Spain is sheep's milk Manchego. And of course no board would be complete without a fresh creamy goats’ cheese, specifically the previously mentioned Laura Chenel Chèvre. Another favorite is Bleu Mont Bandaged Cheddar, a domestic from Wisconsin, always torn into chunks, no cubes allowed.
Lenore’s Cheese Board Tips: Be sure to set your board out one hour before serving, and pair it with a French baguette, simple crackers, one seasonal fruit, jam or compote, honey and Marcona almonds. And don’t forget the wine. Ask me for suggestions.