Tumbleweed (Week 10)

San Joaquin Gold & Tumbleweed
Top: Tumbleweed. Bottom: San Joaquin Gold

Cheese: Tumbleweed

Producer: 5 Spoke Creamery

Where: Goshen, New York

I picked up 2 cheeses at C’est Cheese in Santa Barbara, and while I really did like the San Joaquin Gold, I thought the Tumbleweed was the winner in this match. I got a somewhat strange stubby piece that allowed me to cut it up in very thick slices and it went surprisingly fast. Tumbleweed is made with raw milk from grass-fed Holsteins and your tastebuds have to put in overtime to take it all in: it’s buttery, nutty, a little sweet and it somehow never ends. There is just a lot of flavor to be savored. I am sure it pairs great with a robust red wine (this cheese can easily take on a robust Bordeaux or so), I say leave it. Just have nothing but bread and cheese here – there is enough to keep your senses entertained.

Tumbleweed is made by the people at 5 Spoke Creamery in Goshen, in the county of Orange in the state of New York. Their name and their logo feature spokes in a bicycle wheel. The bicycle in turn is a symbol for taking time to do and to enjoy things. Their cows, Holsteins, are grass-fed and the milk used for cheese is raw. The website extolls the virtues of unpasteurized milk and they point out that 70% of all European cheese is raw. The cheese is aged up to 12 months and that of course helps the taste truly unfold. The creamery is in a farm that is over 110 years old but has been renovated to house a state-of-the-art sustainable operation that cranks out the dairy gold. Alan Glustoff owns 5 Spoke and you can see him at his farm in this video.

By the way, just because in my very informal taste test the San Joaquin Gold from Fiscalini’s came in second, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get some if you can lay your paws on it. They’ve been in the cheesemaking business for over a hundred years – and this particular cheese has a cow stamped into it – what is there not like ?

C'est Cheese
At the Cheese Counter in C’est Cheese

Santa Barbara (Week 10)

Santa Barbara Pier
Santa Barbara’s Sterns Wharf

To us, Santa Barbara is always a treat. We have lots of fond memories (including a splendid little wedding and some heady college years) and we always come away as proud wannabes: one day, we say, we will be able to afford the overpriced real estate here, and the Californian Riviera will be our oyster. Until that day, we are happy to make the trek on a regular basis, and in the cheese year, we obviously had to visit C’est Cheese, the wonderful cheese store and café with an admittedly cheesy name (Eurosnob trivia: c’est, in French, is NOT pronounced ‘say’).

benedict c'est cheese
Breakfast at C’est Cheese

After a glorious breakfast, with great coffee, excellent breakfast potatoes, some of the best eggs Benedict I have ever enjoyed and friendly I-live-in-Santa-Barbara-so-I-really-have-no-reason-to-ever-be-crabby style service, a fine female cheese monger helped me pick not one, but two very nice, creamy cheeses, and we were off wandering the streets. It rained – not so strange in March – but that hardly mattered.

Carrots Santa Barabara Farmer's Market
At the Santa Barbara farmer’s market

We were reminded of the days before our wedding when rainshowers severely cut into the supply of fresh flowers at the farmer’s market. So in a way, through that memory, the rain drove us to the farmer’s market, where we procured an on-demand poem, written by a young woman with a typewriter who offered her services for a modest fee, and a jar of out-of-this-world raw avocado honey, too good to eat in any other way but by the spoonful. We also got some tangerines and then walked on. We stopped in at the Lost Horizon Bookstore, an excellent used bookstore that really requires a lot more time than we had, drove back to our hotel for a short while and went for another walk in the Douglas Family Preserve which affords views over the pacific and the Arroyo Burro Beach, with the restaurant that used to be the Brown Pelican.

Seashore Santa Barbara
At the Douglas Family Preserve

For dinner, we enjoyed the seafood at the Hungry Cat twice in a row. Yes, sometimes it is as simple as that: when the food is that good, why bother going elsewhere? The first night, there was plenty on the menu to choose from and we decided on the encore before we had finished our meal. Of course we ventured out to the waterfront at the harbor and at Stearns Wharf also – it is part of the tradition in Santa Barbara. All in all, we didn’t do an awful lot, but drove home along the Pacific Coast Highway very content and refreshed: Santa Barbara is good for our souls, we find.

Port of Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Harbor