Here’s a take on a classic caprese salad — that popular combination of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. All I’ve done is swap out the mozzarella for thin slices of Humboldt Fog, mostly because I had the other ingredients but no mozzarella, but also because Humboldt Fog is an all-time favorite cheese. The first time I tasted it was at a Sonoma winery visit years ago, and it was definitely love at first bite. It’s a particularly creamy, pretty goat cheese with a layer of edible vegetable ash through the center. As it ages and ripens, it develops more intense flavors that I also love. (You can see that my wedge did have some age — that layer of yellower, firmer cheese, just under the rind, in the pic above.)
Of course, anytime you have a dish with so few ingredients, quality of each is of paramount importance. The tomatoes came from my neighbor’s garden (thanks Dalia — what a great tomato season it has been!), the basil from my own backyard, and then the cheese. I wasn’t sure how the basil and Humboldt Fog would be together, but it turned out to be delicious. A little sea salt and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil is all that’s needed. Oh, and some crusty bread. Don’t forget the bread.
Pairing: California Sauvignon Blanc
I tried this with a range of Sauvignon Blancs, including a few from New Zealand. They really didn’t work as well. That signature pungent thing didn’t play well with the cheese or the salad as a whole. Maybe it’s a regional thing — California cheese calls for California wine. In any case, here are a few that I’ve enjoyed lately:
Ziata 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley ($34). Outstanding, really. Racy, pretty, intense, smooth, refreshing — with layers of juicy grapefruit, crisp green apple, lemon, tropical melon, and light touches of fig and clover. Loved it. Find it!
Amici 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley ($25). Silky, bright and full of flavor — crisp apple, passion fruit, lemon, cream, lemon zest. Find it!
Balverne 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley Forever Wild ($25). An array of aromatic citrus here — tangerine, lemon, lime — mingles with gooseberry, white fig and light grassy notes. Finishes juicy and appealing. Find it!
Round Pond 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford ($24). Pure, pretty, so easy to like. With crisp pear and white peach mingling with smooth melon and lemony citrus notes. Find it!
Rutherford Ranch 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley ($15). Pretty lemon leads the way, picking up juicy melon, lime zest and a dash of gooseberry through the bright finish. Find it!
Wente 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Livermore Valley Louis Mel ($15). Excellent value here, with a burst of citrus, from concentrated lemon to juicy tangerine and sweet lime, accented with smooth melon and dried herbs. Refreshing finish. Find it!
Souverain 2012 Sauvignon Blanc North Coast ($13). Easy-drinking, light and crisp, with juicy melon laced with tangerine, pink grapefruit and lime zest. Find it!