Summertime is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up in North County, I consider myself a true Central Coast native. While I did stray from my little oasis for a brief stint in the corporate world, the experience caused me to fall deeper in love with Paso Robles. The occasional 110 degree summer days do sometimes elicit a small amount of complaining but I really do love our weather! The hot days and perfect nights make for heavenly picnic and barbecue weather. What is the best accompaniment to your outdoor menu? I am happy that you asked! It’s CHEESE, of course!

What’s Trending in Summer Cheese?

First and foremost, all of our local cheese producers are in full swing and doing a good job keeping Vivant stocked with seasonal cheeses that seem to be flying out the door! One of my personal favorites is Alcea Rosea Marinated Chevre. I know I talk about this one a lot, but only because it is simple and amazing regardless of your level of cheese snobbery! Whether you consider yourself a cheese aficionado or just a newbie to the cheese world, you’ll love this cheese! It is a fresh farmstead goat cheese made right here in Templeton. Legendary cheese maker, Bev Michaels is not only amazing at the art of cheese making but she is also a certified Master Gardner. Bev brings these two talents together in her Marinated Chevre starting with her amazingly creamy and mild fresh goat cheese (chevre) and then she then adds an array of herbs from her garden and finishes it off with Olea Farms Olive Oil. I recommend bringing it to room temperature and slathering it on a fresh local La Migliore baguette. Serve this on your patio table with a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio and your guests will never leave!

Of course, we can’t write a blog in the middle of heirloom tomato season and not mention Burrata! This time of the year we can’t keep it in stock! With a shelf life of only three days we ship it in three times a week to keep it at the peak of its flavor and creamy goodness! Traditionally an Italian cheese, Burrata is in the mozzarella family but with so much more to offer! This cheese starts with a thin mozzarella “skin” hand filled with mozzarella curd and cream. Just writing about this makes my mouth water! We sell it in one pound tubs made by our favorite mozzarella company Gioia Cheese in South El Monte. Maybe not the most romantic place to make it, but they know what they are doing! To make the most of this lovely cheese, slice up some of your favorite juicy heirloom tomatoes and top with a spoonful or three of burrata, fresh basil, Olea Farms lemon olive oil and a pinch of fresh ground pepper. Take my word for it, it’s so good that you will hide this one from your guests!

Bread cheese is another one that is trending during the summer months and for good reason. Hailing from the great state of Wisconsin, Carr Valley Cheese Company creates this little gem that needs a little time on the grill. Yes I said grill!! Remove it from the wrapper and put it on the barbecue! Wait for a few minutes and you won’t believe the gooey goodness that awaits you! While I like to serve it with marinara sauce, but they also recommend dipping in honey or even coffee! You can’t pass this one up next time you fire up the grill!

So, now that your mouth is watering and you are getting ready for your next “cook out”, as my Wisconsin friends like to say, swing by Vivant and pick up everything you need to make your meal amazing! No cooking needed, since we all know we don’t want to be inside this time of the year!

Cheers to our beautiful Paso Robles and all it has to offer!

Danika Reed is the Cheese Monger at Vivant Fine Cheese, located in historic downtown Paso Robles. The Central Coast's premier cheese tasting room features premium, local and imported handcrafted artisan cheeses paired with the finest Central Coast wine and beer. Danika is our monthly guest blogger for Cheese'n it Up!