One great thing about Northern California: Whatever your foodie pleasure, there's always more of it out there than at first seems possible. We've lately discovered yet another great cheese out there in the hills: Fat Bottom Girl, spring cheese from Bleating Heart in Sonoma.
Like so many pursuing their crafts, founder and cheese maker Seana Doughty has a day job. Yet she went from zero farm or cheese experience to producing a very nice piece of cheese in less than a year. She also worked as a cheesemonger, founded a licensed sheep dairy (the fifth in California), and become President of the California Artisan Cheese Guild. Quite a lot of sheep and cheese for a Sociology Grad from UCSD who still pays the bills as a research administrator for a scientific research institute. But let's talk about the cheese, which is excellent.
We tried two.
Tasting Notes: A slim trunk of old bark. Mottled grey, brown, white, and tan in the texture of raw cork, grown protectively around a soft white center. Mid-firm tooth with a delicate to slightly sharp flavor and a whiff of the remnant. The mid-mild-semi-assertive center is offset nicely by toothy, mildly nutty rind. It evokes a forest floor under Redwoods, a blanket and a romantic picnic with striations of sunlight breaking through the canopy.
Fat Bottom Girl
Tasting Notes: The cheese that hooked us with the name before it was ever produced. We learned about it at the festival but had to wait over a month to get a slice. The rind is more classic, like Manchego, and the flavor a bit more developed. This cheese suggests the cellar and peaceful development. Lightly nutty notes evoked a "that is truly delicious'" from my visiting mother who enjoyed "even the rind." Modestly more sharp than the last, in the spirit of medium-sharp cheddar or a six-month aged Manchego. A modest mustiness to the rind reinforces the aged character.