Bleating Heart, the Marin County cheesemaker with the whimsical name, swept both sides of the 2014 State Fair’s Commercial Cheese Competition.
Known primarily for its sheep’s milk products, Bleating Heart won Best of Show in that category for its signature cheese, Fat Bottom Girl. In addition, the Tomales cheesemaker also won Best of Show in the cow’s milk category for its recently introduced Moolicious Blue.
Opened in 2009 by Seana Doughty, Bleating Heart also won three divisional awards: Moolicious Blue was named best semi-soft cheese from cow’s milk; Fat Bottom Girl, best semi-hard cheese from sheep’s milk; and Funky Bleats, the best sheep’s milk “California Original.”
With the motto “handcrafted with whimsy in California,” Bleating Heart continues to build on an international reputation as one of the state’s best cheesemakers. In November, Fat Bottom Girl (with a name inspired by a 1978 song by Queen) won Super Gold in England’s World Cheese Awards.
With its own sheep, Bleating Heart concentrates on cheeses made from their flock’s milk. But after opening its new creamery in 2013, the cheesemaker started to branch out into cow’s milk cheeses. Moolicious Blue, made from Jersey cow milk, debuted this spring. Bleating Heart cheese are available at Sacramento Natural Food Co-op in Sacramento and other retailers. For a list of locations and more details on the cheese, click on www.bleatingheart.com.
Announced Friday, the cheese winners will be officially honored by the State Fair on June 24 at Cal Expo in advance of the 2014 fair, which runs July 11 through 27. Judged on flavor, texture, finish and color, the cheeses also will be displayed during the fair.
Famed Sacramento food and wine guru Darrell Corti led the judges’ panel. He was joined by: Mary Dedrick, Dedrick’s Main Street Cheese, Placerville; Lynn Devereux, Marin French Cheese and Laura Chenel Chevre; Sacha Laurin, cheesemaker/teacher, Many Moon Cheese, Davis Food Co-op; Jana Werner, Market Hall Foods; Kristi Bachman, The Cheese School; Les Wood, retired, California Department of Food and Agriculture; and Andrew Hillman, owner, The Cultured and the Cured, Sacramento.
Here are the divisional winners:
• Cottage Cheese Category (Cow): Crystal Creamery, Regular Cottage Cheese
• Cultured Cheese Category (Cow): Dairy Fresh - Saputo Dairy Foods USA, Cream Fraiche
• Soft Cheese Category (Cow): Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, Foggy Morning
• Semi-Soft Cheese Category (Cow): Bleating Heart Cheese, Moolicious Blue
• Semi-Hard Cheese Category (Cow): Fiscalini Cheese, Bandage Wrapped Cheddar
• Hard Cheese Category (Cow): Valley Ford Cheese Company, Estero Gold Reserve
• California Originals Category (Cow): Fiscalini Cheese, Lionza
• Cultured Cheese Category (Goat): Redwood Hill Farm, Kefir
• Soft Cheese Category (Goat): Laura Chenel’s Chèvre, Log
• Semi-Soft Cheese Category (Goat): Gypsy Cheese Co., Gypsy Rose
• Semi-Hard Cheese Category (Sheep): Bleating Heart Cheese, Fat Bottom Girl
• Hard Cheese Category (Goat): Pennyroyal Farm, Boont Corners Vintage
• California Originals Category (Sheep): Bleating Heart Cheese, Funky Bleats
Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.