Poof. La Traviata at the Livermore Valley Opera is finished (and it went very well!), but not before I was able to share some delicious artisan cheeses with some of the cast, crew, and volunteers. About a dozen folks showed up on Saturday afternoon to learn a little bit about artisan cheeses, especially local ones, and pair them with some delicious jams, honeys, and other condiments.
Here’s what everyone enjoyed:
San Andreas: Raw ewe’s milk cheese from Bellwether Farms in Sonoma, California. California’s own brand of pecorino!
Bijou: Goat’s milk cheese from Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery in (duh) Vermont. This is one of my personal favorites, so thought I would throw it in the mix.
Basseri: Raw ewe’s milk cheese from Barinaga Ranch in Marshall, California. Basque-style farmstead cheese made by a beautiful, local cheesemaker.
Midnight Moon: Goat’s milk cheese made for Cypress Grove Chevre in Arcata, California. The cheese is made in the Netherlands, but is sold under the Cypress Grove label. One woman who claims she hates goat cheese loved it, until I told her that it was goat cheese. It’s interesting to see people’s preconceived notions manifest themselves around cheese.
Red Hawk and Mt. Tam: Cow’s milk cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, in Point Reyes, California. They’re essentially the same, creamy, triple-crème, soft-ripened cheese, except that Red Hawk has been washed with brine to promote that stinkiness that so many of us love. The Red Hawk was one of the major stars of the show that afternoon.
Bleu Mont cheddar: Raw cow’s milk from Bleu Mont Dairy in Wisconsin. They just make and age cheese, so milk is sourced from local dairies. A good number of people enjoyed this one—it is a far cry from the plastic-wrapped “cheddar” that so we’re all familiar with.
Cacio di Bosco al Tartufo: Raw sheep’s milk from Il Forteto in Tuscany, Italy. I had promised to include a truffle-infused cheese. Since I was looking for another ewe’s cheese, I thought this would be a great choice.
Bay Blue: Cow’s milk from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese in Point Reyes, California. This beautiful blue cheese with hints of caramel and praline definitely won over some hearts at the tasting. I was so excited to share it with everyone.
The condiments included: June Taylor’s Rose Diamond Nectarine & White Sage conserve, The Girl & the Fig red onion confit, The Mountain Fruit Company‘s fig jam, quince paste, two local honeys, and sour cherries marinated in curacao (homemade!). Plus, the hostess made an absolutely divine panforte, which paired nicely with nearly all the cheeses.
I think that little tasting drummed up enough interest to make opera organizers consider holding a second one. We shall see!