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Cheese & Wine

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Photography by Victoria Pearson
Wine and cheese go together like bread and butter - perfectly.  Yet, selecting the best wine to drink with a cheese or the best cheese to eat with a wine can be a difficult and intimidating process.  Janet Fletcher, food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and winner of two James Beard awards, aims to make those choices easier with her latest book - Cheese & Wine.  Fletcher begins with the underlying concepts of cheese and wine pairing, tips on planning a cheese course and details on dealing with cheese.  She then presents descriptions of 70 cheeses including great artisanal cheeses such as Humboldt Fog (see below), Mimolette, Wensleydale, and Blue d'Auvergne.  Each entry describes the cheese and presents suggested wine pairings.  A glossary of cheese terms is also provided at the end.

Humboldt Fog (Cypress Grove Chevre)

From Cheese & Wine by Janet Fletcher, Chronicle Books, 2007

Pasteurized goat's milk, California

A unique soft-ripened goat cheese created in the early 1990s by Mary Keehn, Humboldt Fog has a thin line of gray ash in the middle. Standing out against the stark white of the paste, the ash ripple represents the coastal fog in Humboldt County, the rural region where the cheese is made.

Keehn buys her milk from local farms and makes several different goat cheeses with it, but Humboldt Fog is her flagship. Produced in two sizes, a fourteen-ounce and a five-pound wheel, the cheese ripens from the outside in, thanks to the work of the white molds on the rind. A wedge cut from a wheel - especially a large wheel - offers an appealing progression of textures, from creamy edge to firm center.

The milk for Humboldt Fog undergoes a slow overnight coagulation that allows flavor to build. The next day, the molds are half filled with the fresh curds, then sprinkled with a mixture of flavorless ash and salt and topped with the remaining curds. Once the wheels have drained and dried a bit, they are coated with more ash and sprayed with the mold spores that will eventually produce the soft, bloomy rind. The ash is not just aesthetic. It lowers the acidity on the surface of the cheese, making a more hospitable home for the molds. Ripening lasts three to four weeks.

Humboldt Fog has a straightforward, clean, and balanced flavor, with pleasing acidity and the salt level in check. It never has the strong goaty taste that mars some goat cheeses, a reflection of the quality of the milk.

Wines that work: Enjoy Humboldt Fog with Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre, with a dry rosé, or a medium-bodied Pinot Noir.

About Cheese & Wine

ImageFrom the best-selling author of The Cheese Course comes a new guide to enjoying one of the most basic yet sophisticated culinary delights: cheese and wine. Janet Fletcher leads readers on an international tour of 70 cheeses, exploring the best wine pairings and serving suggestions. From Oregon's autumnal Rogue River Blue to aromatic Brin d'Amour evocative of the Corsican countryside, cheese lovers will savor the range of textures, flavors, and colors. Featuring mouth-watering color photography and detailed, informative text, this collection of cheeses and the wines that go with them will inspire perfect pairings.

Available at Amazon.com

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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