Some view cheese as only solid food made from milk; I see it as the perfect sustenance. When I do eat at home for dinner, I prefer a charcuterie platter to a full meal. I learned this from my grandmother who after cooking meals for everyone, was entirely content with a bit of cheese, sliced Italian meat, olives, pickles and nuts. While my children complained about this practice when they were small, they now request it when they come to visit for dinner.
When I discovered Vivant Fine Cheese shop in Paso Robles, I was over the moon excited, as my “cheese” habit is no longer satisfied with mild cheddar and Monterey Jack. I desire fancy cheeses, artisan cheeses and the accouterments that go with them to be extravagant.
Gary started with the dessert helping of DeVine cookies. These local handcrafted savory gourmet cookies are created by chef Kathleen of Paso Robles are a meant to be paired with wine. Their unique flavors enhance your wine tasting experience. Though more savory than sweet, he enjoyed them especially after he learned that the proceeds supports Damon Runyon cancer research.
The crew at Vivant was full of spirit and knowledge of the Vivant Fine Cheese Plate that was served with fresh local bread from La Migliore Bakery. Carrie and Kristy prepared an impressive dish including five cheeses and three meats as well as Lucques olives, Marcona almonds and dried cranberries. The cheeses were all impressive, so much so I bought a half-pound of each to take home for my nightly meal.
A bit about these rinds of wonder:
First taste was a soft brie type called Fromager d’Affinois, which is a French double-cream soft cheese made from cow’s milk. The Fromagerie Guilloteau Company produces it. Similar to Brie in production, appearance and flavor, but this delectable cheese had a creamy consistency that was blissful.
Next was a favorite of mine, Five Year Gouda. The five-year old version of this Beemster classic is simply unrivaled for that perfect balance of salty and sweet flavors with a hint of butterscotch. Deep caramel in color, crunchy, flaky, and meltingly smooth on the tongue, a true cow’s milk Dutch Gouda bursts with flavor. If there is a perfect cheese, this is it.
My favorite treat from Spain is Manchego; a sheep’s milk cheese is made exclusively from the milk of sheep grazing upon the plains of La Mancha, the land of Don Quixote. Manchego is made from raw milk and aged for several months. The cheese is nutty, sweet, and tangy with a firm texture. I was delighted.
The Honey Bee Goat Gouda is imported from Holland and has a little bit of honey that makes this a most perfect goat cheese. A bit of sweetness, a bit of nutty flavor and the zing makes a wonderful cheese to snack on with the Busseto chorizo.
Finishing off with a Big Rock Blue, from Central Coast Creamery made with organic milk and matured for three to four months. This cheese is moist, dense, and almost fudgy, with an aroma that suggests buttermilk. It is neither sharp nor salty, about the flawless blue. We added Busseto Chorizo, salami and prosciutto. To round out this exceptional platter and enjoyed every last bit.
Danika Gordon, owner of Vivant Fine Cheese came to check on us and we chatted about her cheese knowledge. She majored at Cal Poly in Dairy Science with a minor in AG business and worked at the Cal Poly creamery for four years. She told me how Vivant Fine Cheese shop has long been the premier cheese shop and wholesale cheese expert to over 150 wineries, restaurants and finer stores. Due to their popularity, they had move to a bigger place to serve customers, but are still in the heart of Historic Downtown Paso Robles with over over 250 different cheeses to choose from. The new location has an expanded lunch menu for locals including soups, salads, and grab & go work week lunches.
We took sandwiches to-go on our wine tasting. They were delectable and the impeccable accompaniment to the wines. I had the Roasted Turkey with creamy Havarti, a pesto mayonnaise, with caramelized onions and roasted red peppers. The bread was thick and moist while the cheese and meat cut to precision and flavorful.
Gary had the Panini on ciabatta bread that was hot, sweet and savory. Inside the pressed and warmed bread was Busseto prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and fig spread.
Served with Kettle chips it was a sandwich to be celebrated.
Vivant Fine Cheese offers cheese boards, charcuterie platters, picnic baskets and boxed lunch sandwiches, they can also cater your next party. Vivant Fine Cheese is now located at 821 Pine Street, Suite B, in Downtown Paso Robles. They are open everyday from 11:00am to 6:00pm, call them at (805) 226-5530 or order cheese on line www.vivantfinecheese.com. I just joined their cheese club and looking forward to my next cheese shipment.