Groovy Goat Cheese Takes Blue Ribbon

cypress Grove PsycheDillic

At this time of year, I’m happy to eat Greek salad every day. I’m not tired of those garden tomatoes and cucumbers yet. But last week I shook things up a bit, replacing the feta with PsycheDillic, the little dill-scented goat cheese that just took a blue ribbon at the American Cheese Society competition.
 
Awesome name, right? Cypress Grove, the California creamery that produces this cheese, updated the seasonings on its flavored chèvres about five years ago. But the company reached back in time for the names, choosing 60s-themed monikers like Purple Haze and Sergeant Pepper. Purple Haze, scented with fennel pollen and lavender, now outsells the creamery’s plain goat cheese.
 
“We know our cost of shipping is high here in the boonies so we were trying to make it really interesting for folks,” says Cypress Grove founder Mary Keehn. Cypress Grove is in Humboldt County, near the Oregon border, an area long associated with illicit pot growing and off-the-grid lifestyles. When Keehn and her colleagues devised a fresh goat cheese coated in dill pollen, a staff brainstorm yielded the perfect flashback name.

 Working girls: Break time at Cypress Grove

Working girls: Break time at Cypress Grove

The creamery often wins ribbons for its flavored cheeses because it seasons with a light hand. I’m not typically enthusiastic about cheese with added flavors, even truffles, but I enjoy this little guy. The four-ounce rindless disk has a dusting of golden dill pollen on the surface, not inside, with a little dried dill added for color. The plant’s pollen is more subtle and complex than the leaf, says Keehn, and more costly as well.  
 
Keehn uses PsycheDillic for a pinwheel-style hors d’oeuvre, thinning the cheese with a little milk or cream, spreading it on smoked salmon, rolling up the bundle and slicing it. “It kind of goes with the 60s theme,” she jokes. Update that idea with warm rye or pumpernickel toast, a schmear of the dilled cheese and a slice of smoked salmon. Capers? Why not.
 
I like PsycheDillic (and other similar goat cheeses) best when slightly warm. Put the whole disk in a lightly oiled ramekin and into a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes, just until it quivers at the touch. The warmth brings up the aroma and produces a custard-like texture. Drizzle with more olive oil and serve with summer vegetables: raw tomatoes and cucumbers, of course, but also green bean salad, ratatouille, roasted peppers, grilled eggplant. Or spread on bruschetta and top with a slow-roasted tomato (recipe follows).
 
PsycheDillic is widely available in better supermarkets and some specialty-cheese stores. I found it at Berkeley’s Pasta Shop for $6.99. A dry rosé or brisk white wine, like Greek Assyrtiko, would be ideal with it.

Roasted Tomato Bruschetta with Yogurt Cheese

Bruschetta

Substitute gently warmed PsycheDillic (see above) for the yogurt cheese, if desired. Adapted from Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner by Janet Fletcher (Ten Speed Press).

  • 6 plum (Roma) tomatoes, about 1 pound, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 12 baguette slices, cut on the diagonal about 1/2 inch thick
  • 3/4 cup yogurt cheese (labneh), at room temperature, or warm PsycheDillic (see above)
  • Fresh basil or dill leaves for garnish

 
Preheat an oven to 300°F. Put the tomatoes cut side up in a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil. Season with the oregano, crumbling the dried herb between your fingers to release its fragrance. Dot the tomatoes with the minced garlic and season with salt. Bake until the tomatoes are very soft and beginning to caramelize but still hold their shape, 2 to 3 hours, depending on their size and ripeness. Using a pastry brush, baste the tomatoes with any pan juices—the tomatoes may not release much—every 45 minutes or so. Let cool slightly. The tomatoes are best warm, not hot.
 
Preheat a broiler or toaster oven. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast on both sides until golden brown. 
 
Spread one side of each toast with 1 tablespoon yogurt cheese or PsycheDillic. Top with a warm roasted tomato half. (You can halve the tomatoes lengthwise first so they cover more of the toast surface.) Garnish with basil or dill leaves and serve immediately.

Serves 6