If you're into cheese, you've likely heard of — and love — Humboldt Fog. The same creamery, Northern California's Cypress Grove, offers another great goat, in a fresher style, and peppered with some pretty tasty embellishments. Purple Haze is easy to find, super bright-tasting and creamy, and pretty much perfect for this time of year.
What makes this cheese unique is the addition of lavender and wild fennel pollen. Lavender can be a polarizing flavor. But regardless of your proclivities in lavender consumption, Purple Haze is worth a try. The lavender reads more as rosemary, oily and herbaceous and woodsy. And the fennel flavor is understated, adding a uniquely savory quality.
Made from pasteurized goat milk in Northern California's Humboldt County, Purple Haze is just one of the selections in the Cypress Grove Chevre portfolio. Cypress Grove actually holds a pretty special place in the history books of American artisan cheese. Mary Keehn, now considered one of the founders of the American cheese movement, started the company back in 1983. She focused mainly on fresher styles at the onset, and created Humboldt Fog in 1992. Now, it's easily an American classic, and it inspired her to devise other originals.
Try Purple Haze with stone fruit or in a salad. I served it with walnut bread and grapes, the nuttiness and sweetness of which played nicely with the herbaceous quality of the cheese. The herbs are subtle, and so the cheese makes an easy complement to a number of breads, fruits, and accoutrements.
It might be especially nice in a shaved fennel salad, to bring the fennel theme full circle. Or with a bright white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc or Soave. Try it in scrambled eggs or a frittata, perhaps, its herby additions killing a few birds with one stone.
Purple Haze is widely available in 4 oz. rounds. Find it at Whole Foods and other fine retailers, ranging in price from $7 to $10.
(Image: Nora Singley)