Buongiorno. Some days I feel extremely lucky to live in Northern California - usually when I'm eating local food. When something is truly extraordinary, I can't keep it to myself, because great food is even better when it's shared. The Marin French Cheese Company in Petaluma has been producing some very exciting cheeses: at the United States Championship Cheese Contest 10 days ago their Rouge et Noir Le Petite Chevre Bleu won Best of Class in Mold-Ripened Goat Cheese, and the Second Place Runner up was their Le Petit Chevre, so I promptly sent in my congratulations and organized a small group tasting.
I served eight cheeses, and these four were the runaway hits. See what you think - just remember to leave your cheeses out of the fridge for at least six hours before serving, because they need to be at room temperature for their flavors to bloom and soften up to the right creamy texture.
Rouge et Noir — Le Petite Chevre Bleu
An earthy, creamy blue goat's milk cheese with Roquefort blue veins. Essence of white truffle immediately sent me back for more, but everyone else had the same idea: it disappeared quickly. Pair it with that good bottle of Dry Creek Syrah you've been saving a special occasion: this is it.
Rouge et Noir — Le Petite Chevre
This Second Place Runner up is a milder goat's milk cheese for Brie eaters ready to make the transition but but fearing the jump. No blue veins here, but still the flavor hangs around in the nose a while, with just a light tang of goat's milk. The right cheese for a night in front of a fireplace, with comfortable slippers and a sleeping pet.
Rouge et Noir — Mélange Brie
No punches are held back for this goat and cow's milk multi-award winner: extremely ripe, bold, and slightly tangy, bang on the nose. The woodsy finish hangs around awhile too, like rain in the forest. Slather a thin slice of bread with a hefty slab, insert in mouth, narrow the eyes, and exhale slowly through the nose. Whooo, watery eyes, great flavor.
Rouge et Noir — Mélange Camembert
This one's the mild-mannered, bookwormish sibling of the Mélange Brie - a Pinot Noir to the Brie's Cabernet. But don't be fooled: great rewards await those who take the time to discover its subtler walnut notes, very light tang, and a buttery texture that will have you wonder why anybody would badmouth fats. Shocking.
Enjoy! How could you not?