August is national goat cheese month, and as it happens one of my favorite chevre cheeses is a vegetarian cheese. Cypress Grove’s Purple Haze is an unusual cheese, and I daresay it’s not to everyone’s taste, but it is worth tasting. (Despite the name, it is not purple. It is, in my opinion, a trippy flavor combination, however.) I picked up a small package on a whim a couple of years back, with no great expectations. The package said that it was made with lavender and fennel pollen. I literally could not imagine what that would taste like. So of course I had to taste it. 😉 To my utter surprise I loved it! I’m still at a bit of a loss to tell you what it tastes like, but the flavor is unique and oddly compelling. It doesn’t taste herbal, and it doesn’t taste quite like what I’d first think of as “floral”, but floral is the closest word I can think of to describe it. It tastes like a sunny summer garden, or perhaps a picture of a garden, as there are no earth notes to the flavor. It’s as light as sunshine on the tongue. I have to dole out small dabs on crackers and count out the crackers before I sit down or I fear I will eat the entire package! Really, I very nearly did the first time I tried it. I ate in a delicious dream of creamy cheese with a delicate unusual flavor, and when I came to I was blissed out and had consumed almost all of it.
This isn’t Cypress Grove’s only vegetarian cheese: all the cheeses they currently make use non-animal rennet. They make a number of different types of cheeses (all with enticing names). A friend of mine likes their Humboldt Fog. I liked it too, but not nearly as much as the Purple Haze. There are even more cheeses on their website which I’m keeping an eye out for in local stores. Their cheeses are somewhat hard to find (at least in my area). It’s hit and miss locally and months may pass before I can snag more. They are apparently a small artisanal cheesemaker and probably don’t have a wide distribution, but if you love cheese and are an adventurous eater, keep an eye out for their cheeses. If, or when, you try them please drop a comment on this post and let me know what you got and what you think! 🙂