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Humboldt Fog® is a goat milk cheese with a very distinctive line of vegetable ash running through the center of it. It is produced by Cypress Grove Chevre in Arcata, California. This cheese is typically associated with cheese maker Mary Keehn and is visually similar to Morbier. Most people consider this cheese exceptionally fine, having won first prizes from the American Cheese Society in 1998, 2002, and 2005.
The characteristic taste of Humboldt Fog® is often described as tangy or fresh. While its defining characteristics in a visual sense are the line of ash and soft rind, these features are essentially flavorless. Like many cheeses, the only ingredients are goat's milk, enzymes, and vegetable ash. Most of the flavor derives from the quality of the milk used and the skill exerted in making the cheese.
In most cases, Humboldt Fog® is served at room temperature. As the cheese continues to age, the softer section toward the rind will grow, reducing the crumbly middle. Many people like the stronger flavor toward the rind, so this is not a sign that the cheese is no longer acceptable to eat. The rind is edible, and the preferred stage at which someone eats the cheese is largely up to personal preference.
Cypress Grove Chevre is a producer of many fine goat milk cheeses, but Humboldt Fog® is its signature cheese. This artisanal cheese is produced in relatively small batches and can be quite difficult to find far from California where it is made. The milk used for all Cypress Grove cheeses comes from Humboldt County farms. Vegetarian rennet is used, making this an acceptable cheese for most vegetarians. Humboldt Fog® is named for the fog that drifts in from Humboldt Bay, and this cheese in many ways represents Cypress Grove's interest in promoting a local flavor.
Recipes involving Humboldt Fog® are quite diverse, but one of the most popular uses of this cheese is in salads. The crumbly center is excellent in light spinach salads with fruit and nut elements. Recipes involving fruit are extremely popular with this cheese, and figs are often part of Humboldt Fog® salads. It is even possible to create cheesecake out of this cheese.
Pairings for Humboldt Fog® are largely personal, but most people believe this cheese goes well with crisp white wine. Specifically, sparkling wine, sauvignon blanc, and pinot grigio are thought to pair particularly well. Some people do enjoy red wine with this cheese, and pinot noir is thought to be an acceptable pairing.