One of the perks of having friends and family who live in Oregon is the local cheese samples that come my way. This weekend’s treat was Sunset Bay, a soft-ripened goat cheese from River’s Edge Chèvre, and purchased at New Seasons Market in Portland.
How beautiful it was! New, colorful cheese! It came to me tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, an oozy ball with a mottled, grey rind and deep orange line of paprika. I unwrapped it and waited for it to come to room temperature (Actually, I bottled a batch of kombucha while it warmed up). As it came to, it became readily apparent that this piece was RIPE. How could I tell? The rind and paste separated, bathed in a pool of gooey, almost linen white. That smoky paprika line undulated slowly as the cheese shifted, sinking and lifting like the reflection of a sunset. The paste, had the cheese been younger, would probably have stayed in its cakey formation. The gorgeous ash-coated rind bore a woven pattern across the top (and maybe the bottom, but it was too late to check by the time I thought of it).
Mr. Cheesemonger and I took a whiff, and fell in love with the creamy, savory, smoky richness of the bouquet. It was as well-rounded and savory as a roast rabbit or slow-cooking stew.
Tasting couldn’t come soon enough. I tried a few honeys with it, but decided Sunset Bay stands best alone! It felt like a velvety cascade (maybe a cheesy ganache?) sliding down my throat, with a hint of fudginess toward the slightly less-ripe center. The rind was surprisingly delicate, and broke down almost as easily as the paste. Taste-wise, Sunset Bay favors the bold, featuring a meaty, savory burst of flavor. The smoked paprika added a smoky depth to the ensemble. The finish was sweet and creamy, almost like a second course of the meal.
Thumbs way up on this one. I am adding Sunset Bay to my list of requested cheeses, Oregon friends!