Central Coast Creamery: Taste-Testing Paso Robles' (and SFO's) Surprise Cheeses
Most airports continue to ignore the obvious truth that the feet that flow through their halls are connected to hungry people with both cash and palates -- and little interest in airports' plebeian gruel and fast-food fare. Fortunately, SFO has taken the bold step with the new Terminal 2 of actually having great food, even great packaged food. I spent a half hour wandering the aisles and saw many familiar labels from posts past, and even found a few new ones, including an artisan Cheese Company from Paso Robles.
I remember Paso Robles when the only entertainment was a karaoke machine that moved from bar to bar depending on the night, and the Paso Robles Inn -- your only real place to stay, there -- stretched the meaning of the term "Inn." Today Paso has an upgraded Inn and several high end competitors, plenty of restaurants, several of which are quite good, an array of wines well worth drinking, and a growing community of artisan retailers and producers, so cheese had to come along eventually.
Central Coast Creamery specializes in aged cheeses and favors goat milk and milk blends. The make four cheeses at the moment,, and we tasted them all:
Our top pick. Made with goat milk and some added goat cream and aged four months or more. "The only domestic goat Gouda that you will find," CCC claims.
Tasting Notes: Color of vanilla ice cream, modestly off white. Crumbly-firm. A bit of grit in the mouth and a sharp-pleasant character of Gouda with a kick makes for a very nice cheese. An almost sweet finish stands out, which we found in several of their cheeses, and the closest descriptor we can come up with is the one they provided: caramel.
Tasting Note: Color of pale butter with a porous spray of air bubbles, like Swiss in miniature. Medium firm rubber texture with a medium-assertive character that leans towards Gouda crossed with cheddar. A bit muddled in character in flavor as if it's unsure what type of cheese it wants to be.
Made from blended goat and cow milk, with a natural brushed rind aged for a minimum of 4 months.
Tasting Notes: Ivory color, mid-firm almost to flaky. Assertive, with a pleasant tang and an note fois and the sea. Calls out for dry Sherry
Tasting Notes: Made from 100% whole goat milk. Bright white, and crumbly-firm. A modest sweetness, but the sweetness of seafood, of sea urchin, hangs at the rear of a sharp tang. No goateness per se, in terms of gaminess, but certainly the assertiveness one expects from goat.