Tag Archives: The Girl and The Fig

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Cheese of the Week: Juniper Grove Tumalo Tomme Goat Cheese


The world’s longest lasting cheese course (lucky us!) continues with a Tumelo Tomme Goat’s Milk cheese (also known as Tumelo Classico) from Juniper Grove Farm in Redmond, Oregon. This is a lovely cheese, with a firmer texture than you might ordinarily find in a goat cheese, which results in something like a goat gouda. It’s a solid, pleasing cheese, with a lot of body in the mouth.

The goat aspect takes a moment to hit you and, when it does, it is equally pleasant and on the mild side. (The Haystack Mountain Queso de Mano, which was on the same plate, is bolder.) There are nutty and sweet, even caramel-like notes, along with an earthy, slightly mushroom-y taste.

Redmond Grove Farm’s owner/cheesemaker, Pierre Kolisch, studied cheesemaking in Normandy with master cheesemaker Francois Durand, and cites European “tomme” cheeses as an influence. (“Tomme” loosely means small cheese from partial milkings, with the “tomme” and “toma” names in particular use in the French and Italian Alps.)

Tumalo is a raw-milk cheese, made from milk from Redmond Grove’s herd of goats, which feed on alfalfa year-round on beautiful land east of Oregon’s Cascade Mountain range. (Indeed, Tumalo bears the name of a local village.) Kolisch employs traditional farmstead methods in his cheesemaking, such as separating curds from whey, and then brining, stacking and hand-turning the washed-rind cheese, as it ages on pine planks in a dry, cool environment for three months.

The result is this nice, lovingly made goat cheese.

The Tomalo Tomme works well with crackers, grapes, apricots, or a fruity red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Merlot.


Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Cheese of the Week: Fiscalini Farms Bandage Wrapped Cheddar


Moving further along our superb Girl and the Fig cheese course, in order of distinctiveness (to me), we find the Fiscalini Farms Bandage Wrapped Cheddar. This was my husband’s very favorite cheese on the plate.

It is, indeed, a special cheese. It has a wonderfully strong, complex taste that features a mix of salty and sweet flavors. There are hints of grass and nuts, along with a pleasing buttery quality.

Far from the gummy, uninteresting, mass-produced cheddars that can give this cheese a bad name, the Fiscalini is dry and on the crumbly side, without sacrificing any creaminess of texture. It’s aged 18 months, using unpasteurized milk from the Fiscalini Farmstead cows and traditional methods that include bandage-wrapping the wheels in cheesecloth. The cheesecloth lets the cheese breathe as it ages and lends it a nice porous rind.

The Fiscalini Cheese Company, in the California Central Valley town of Modesto, has been operating since 1914. Their current cheesemaker, Jorge “Mariano” Gonzalez, studied at Montgomery Farms in England and perfected his methods at Shelburne Farms in Vermont. His bandage-wrapped cheddars consistently win awards, competing with such cheddar stalwarts as Neal’s Yard Dairy in England.

Cheddar doesn’t boast the same name-protection as some other European cheeses, which can only call themselves by certain names if they come from specific geographic areas. As such, cheddar is produced in many parts of the world. The first cheddars were created in Medieval times, in the village of Somerset, England, and it is the “Somerset model” that some use to determine a true traditional farmstead cheddar.

Randolph Hodgson, the proprietor of Neal’s Yard Dairy, has worked with the Slow Food Movement to develop standards for artisan Somerset cheddar. These include using unpasteurized milk from a farm’s own herd, employing traditional “cheddaring” methods, like stacking and turning the curd by hand, and aging at least 11 months. Aside from geographic considerations, Fiscalini fits the bill, and is the only American farm to do so. (Shelburne Farms makes a clothbound cheddar, but it is in extremely limited production.)

After enjoying this tangy cheese, it will be harder for me to take the cheddars for granted. Pair the complex Fiscalini with a hearty ale or a fruity wine, and crisp apple slices. Due to quality and price, I’d make it a nibbly cheese, rather than a cooking cheese. And I’d certainly give it its rightful place on the cheese board.


Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Cheese of the Week: Haystack Mountain Queso de Mano Goat Cheese


Continuing down our Girl and the Fig cheese plate, I really enjoyed the Queso de Mano goat cheese, from Jim Schott’s award-winning Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy in Niwot, Colorado. This is a superb raw-milk cheese — it has a wonderful, prominent, goat taste that is slightly sweet, and carries with it an undertone of nuttiness, as well as a hint of its farmstead grass and herbs. All that makes it terrifically complex and interesting, especially if you love goat-milk cheeses, as I do.

The Queso de Mano also manages to combine a firm texture with a velvety mouth feel. The cheese is aged four months and has a natural washed rind. It would be great with toasted almonds, fresh cherries or apricots, and a good fruity red wine.

For a long time, Haystack Mountain was the last remaining dairy in Boulder County. Sadly, local and other business expenses forced the company to sell its goats to the State Prison in Canon City, Colorado, which has operated an inmate-run dairy for 70 years. The upshot, though, is that the company is still producing and distributing its fabulous cheese from its headquarters in Longmont, Colorado, inmates at Canon City are doing fruitful work and learning a skill, and the Nubian, LaMancha, Sanaan and Nubian Cross goats are continuing to thrive and produce the milk that goes into Haystack Mountain’s cheeses.

The Queso de Mano is the second cheese from the right:


Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Cheese of the Week: Bohemian Creamery Bo Poisse


I recently ducked into the fantastic Girl and the Fig restaurant in Sonoma and shared a wonderful cheese course with My Man. Of the six cheeses, the Bo Poisse, from Lisa Gottreich and Miriam Block’s new Bohemian Creamery in Bodega, was the absolute standout. The first thing that hits you about Bo Poisse is its sweet, pungent smell. When you bite into it, you find a delightfully creamy, almost wet cheese that tastes of mushroom, cream, a slight bit of ash. This is followed up by a lusty, tangy finish that brings with it more than a hint of a barnyard on a hot afternoon.

This cheese totally commits — As such it’s not for everyone. I loved it.

Bohemian Creamery is a small-batch, artisanal producer. They handcraft each round on their seven-acre farm, much of the milk coming from their own goats. The cows-milk Bo Poisse is made with milk from neighboring Jerseys. The washed-rind cheese is created using an Epoisse recipe. The French village of Epoisses is known for its pungent, soft, washed-rind cheeses. Napoleon was supposedly a fan, as was early epicurean/writer Brillat-Savarin, who called it “the king of all cheeses”.

The restaurant’s bubbly, sweet Fig Royale proved a nice companion to the complex cheese. I could see Medjool dates working with it, as well. Though my husband had other favorites on the cheese board (that’s what makes the world go ’round, plus more Bo Poisse for me), I can’t wait to have this cheese again, and I wish Bohemian Creamery great cheese-wheel-shaped success.

Look for my other reviews from this tasting, as we work our way down the cheese plate, bit by bit.


Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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