Whole Story

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Happy Anniversary Humboldt Fog

By Cathy Strange, September 10, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Cathy Strange

Head north out of San Francisco and keep driving through the beautiful country of northern California. Your mind begins to relax as you ease your way through the rolling hills. The countryside begins to change to breathtakingly tall Redwood trees. The climate drops noticeably as mist and moss become a part of every view. The bustling towns and cities are nowhere to be found and the occasional roadside stops for fresh mushrooms or cold beer mark the miles. The drive provides a change of scene as you weave along the Eel River and a change of feeling begins internally. Calmness creeps over you like the typical morning fog in Humboldt County. This serene northern California setting is the birthplace one of the world’s most recognized cheeses. I do mean the world, not just the US.

Humboldt Fog was literally dreamt up by Mary Keehn and named after the beautiful fog that blankets her home. Mary is a gentle-spirited woman who in the mid-Seventies was raising four children on her own. She was also raising, milking and showing some of the best Alpine breeding goats in the US (four national champions!). It was through raising the goats that she began to consider ways to carve out the time for her children, while making a living and still continuing to work with the goats that she loved so much. Cheese? Mary had always made cheese for herself and the family and there was plenty of milk from the goats, so cheese became a great option. Cypress Grove Chevre was born.

It was during these early years that Mary became great friends with Judy Schad from Capriole Cheese located in Indiana (we love your cheese too!). Encouraged by Chantal Plasse, a renowned French cheesemaker, Judy and Mary decided that they would take a trip to France to learn more about the art of cheesemaking. Chantal exposed them to small multi-generational goat cheese producers. It was by visiting with these cheesemakers and their families, sitting at their tables eating cheese and drinking wine, that both Mary and Judy came away with unique and creative cheese ideas In fact, following this trip to France, Mary had a dream. The dream was a cheese with a line of ash in it. This cheese would eventually be known worldwide as the celebrated Humboldt Fog. That dream was over 20 years ago!

Not everyone liked the cheese at first; it was unlike anything on the market (chevre, or goat cheese, was not a popular cheese at this time) and it had a dark line running through the middle of it. For years the cheese was on the market in key Whole Foods Market® stores in the San Francisco Bay area. I would like to acknowledge the Whole Foods Market Franklin store for providing Mary with great feedback about her cheeses. Our Team Members felt that her cheese was as good as any of the French goat cheeses that were being sold and encouraged her to go after that positioning. But it was not until a 2002 magazine article highlighted the 100 best designs in the world and listed Humboldt Fog amongst art and architecture that she knew she had finally made it.

After all these years Mary is really proud of her new vision for Cypress Grove Chevre. Years ago, as her cheese gained in popularity and renown, she gave up her beloved goat herd to farmers down the road so she could focus on the cheesemaking. But now she is back in the goat business with her own farmstead and a goat herd of three breeds and currently over 150 head. There is great energy around this evolution in the business and from all involved at the cheese facility and the farm. Mary and her team look forward to the educational opportunities that they are now able to provide to the community and the support they can provide to the community of dairy-goat farmers through breeding.

The cheese wheel is a circle and Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog has also come full circle. As we celebrate the 20th year of Humboldt Fog by Cypress Grove Chevre I offer my heartfelt appreciation and congratulations to Mary, her family and her team. I look forward to writing another blog on the 25th anniversary of the cheese!

Have you had Humboldt Fog? How would you describe the cheese?

Category: Cheese

 

31 Comments

Comments

Greig McGill says ...
This was one of the best cheeses I've had in my life, and was made even better because I'd emailed Cypress Grove before heading to San Francisco from New Zealand, to check on availability. They went above and beyond and sent an enormous sample pack of Cypress Grove cheeses to our hotel room! My wife and I had the best time working our way through them, pairing with various local craft beers, and honestly, it was just nothing short of a transformative experience. The Humboldt Fog itself was my favourite of them all, and has a beautiful, almost cream-cheese like texture and sweetness, backed by a great "tang". Back home in New Zealand now and withdrawl symptoms are certainly kicking in! :)
09/10/2012 8:00:32 PM CDT
amy says ...
Humbolt Fog is my absolute favorite cheese! I always describe it as a combo of goat cheese, brie and blue!
09/10/2012 8:11:01 PM CDT
Laser Dave says ...
Cypress Grove is delightfully out of control! Been eating goat cheese for years, and was turned on to Purple Haze. Nice!! One day I was handed a sample of Humbolt Fog, and YOWSA!! It does have the features of a blue, without being overpowering. Simply delicious and very grin inducing. Truffle Tremor is also a delight. I can never decide between the two, so I get them both! The biggest problem with Cypress Grove cheeses, is I am now largely ignoring the rest of the cheese display. Their products are that good.
09/11/2012 12:05:30 PM CDT
Ellen Waff says ...
Humboldt Fog is my very favorite goat cheese (although I'm also partial to Drunken Goat)! It's tangy, somewhat like Brie, somewhat crumbly in the center.....and totally delicious!
09/11/2012 2:44:49 PM CDT
Janet Morrissey says ...
I have to admit that Humboldt Fog is my second favorite. My favorite is Purple Haze. Which reminds me that I am out of both and need to pick them up this weekend.
09/11/2012 5:51:15 PM CDT
Lolita Islas says ...
Beatiful blog,pictures,recipes and all,congratulations & enjoy!
09/12/2012 7:01:44 PM CDT
Chris Tankersley says ...
The best goat cheese I have ever had. It is consistently smooth, tangy and is a special treat in our household. Thanks to Mary to dedicating herself to the hard work that it takes to make this special cheese. Chris
09/14/2012 10:59:50 AM CDT
Kerry says ...
This is my all time favorite cheese!! As a chef, I would reccomend it everywhere I worked to put on their cheese plates, or dessert courses!! I love the texture, and the taste!! To me, it pairs well with everything..red wines, white wines, chicken, pork!! Keep up the great job!! I love this cheese to death!!
09/14/2012 11:06:20 AM CDT
Patricia Burke says ...
Being from WI, where we grow up thinking cheese is a primary food group, I've loved HF for years. It reminds me a bit of Saga, with the piquancy of blue cheeses and the smoothness of a brie but benefitting enormously from the combination of both. Mary and her folks should be proud of their innovation and the high quality of production that had made Humboldt Fog a highly desired product and well-known across the country.
09/14/2012 11:39:34 AM CDT
Jill Hansen says ...
I fell in love w/ Humboldt Fog about a year ago and have turned on several people to its fabulous richness and taste. It's a special treat at our house.
09/14/2012 12:16:19 PM CDT
Elizabeth Graybill says ...
We have been enjoying Humbolt Fog for as log as it has been available in VA. How to describe it? A lovely, tangy unique flavor that, paired with an good red wine will definately make your day! We also love Lamb Chopper, and Midnight Moon. Truffle Tremor, that is definitely to die for!!!!!
09/14/2012 12:48:43 PM CDT
Wendy Kato says ...
One of my favorite cheeses, buy it when I feel like treating myself. Love creamy crumbly texture and tang
09/14/2012 1:08:52 PM CDT
Linda Baldwin says ...
This is wonderful description of the origin of one the world's best cheeses and of the Humboldt area itself.If you have not tried this cheese, you are in for a amazing experience. Don't hesitate!!!
09/14/2012 1:14:50 PM CDT
TT says ...
I love this cheese. I have some in my fridge right now! And is is almost gone - have to buy more!
09/14/2012 1:32:59 PM CDT
Lisa says ...
This is one AMAZING cheese - cross between blue and brie and chevre - YUM - all my favorites rolled into one. I have to fight my 11 year old and 8 year old for it - and it's becoming expensive!
09/14/2012 2:46:18 PM CDT
Helen Conway says ...
I first tasted "Humboldt Fog" in a salad prepared by Chef Lisa Geer at Ledford House Restaurant, Albion on the Mendocino Coast. It was a real treat! I am pleased to find that cheese availabel at my Whole Foods in Campbell
09/14/2012 3:24:36 PM CDT
Monica says ...
I was served Humboldt Fog by a friend and I couldn't believe how much I loved it, I had always thought goat cheese was too strong, but Humboldt Fog changed my mind! Now I love all kinds of chevre and goat cheese, it's my favorite! Happy Anniversary!
09/14/2012 4:18:31 PM CDT
SRG says ...
My favorite cheese ever! Mild yet full-flavored, smooth and complex, DELICIOUS!
09/14/2012 5:03:49 PM CDT
MaryR says ...
Love it! Always a huge hit on my cheese platters. Wish I could more frequently get individual small rounds vs. slices.
09/14/2012 6:20:48 PM CDT
DiANE says ...
Is this cheese -- preparation, packaging, processing -- gluten free?
09/14/2012 6:23:32 PM CDT
Karen says ...
It's tangy and goes great with sweet fig spread and a baguette. I also love mixing it into scrambled eggs just before they're done or in an omelet with fresh spinach - fantastic!
09/14/2012 7:44:11 PM CDT
Donna says ...
we just purchased Humboldt Fog for the 1st time 2 weeks ago. we are in love with it. probably not what Mary had in mind but we enjoyed it wiht bread & wine during our 1st Eagles game of the football season ( & we won) so perhaps we shall continue this new tradition
09/14/2012 7:51:42 PM CDT
Ruth Kreisman says ...
We love Humboldt Fog and so does everyone to whom I serve it. Every year I coordinate food for the Annual Meeting of our Homeowners Association (I used to do event planning),and the cheese platter ALWAYS has Humboldt fog on it.It's a must have by request.Sometimes we have 200 people there. Thank you for your dedication to the making of this wonderful cheese, Mary Keehn, and may you continue to love doing it.
09/14/2012 10:06:24 PM CDT
Julie K says ...
Humboldt Fog is one of my favorite cheeses. The goat cheese is a wonderful segue to the tartness of the blue cheese vein. When allowed to reach room temperature it has a creamy, melt in your mouth consistency that goes well on crackers and toasts, and also seems to frequently strike my pallate directly from a butter knife. I have been buying it at Whole Foods for years. We will celebrate this anniversary with the wedge I bought on Monday.. Thanks, Cypress Grove and Whole Foods.
09/14/2012 10:44:00 PM CDT
Sylvia B says ...
This has been one of my favorite cheeses for many years. How cool to learn more about the great story behind it. I'm having Humboldt Fog tonight to celebrate the anniversary!
09/15/2012 8:36:59 AM CDT

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