Vegetarian Suitable

Winner: First Place, Flavored Cheddar, American Cheese Society Annual Competition, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011


As many of you know, The Lady and I, your humble Feline Foodie, are relatively new (July 2008 when Mike Smith and Thea Kooy took a shot and gave The Lady her first Cheese Steward position – thanks, BTW, to both of you!! It sure has made my life a lot more fun… and greatly improved the quality of the eats I find in my dish…) to the cheese game and learning as we go along.

Part of our education comes from “field trips” that The Lady regularly takes. She shares her observations with me and then I turn around and make them interesting…

Just north of her store in Portland is a neighborhood called Hollywood District and having seen the “real” Hollywood when I patrolled down in SoCal, I can tell you the two neighborhoods bear no similarity… none… nada… which, quite frankly, is a good thing for the Portland one… maybe back in the day, it was the place to be but not anymore… especially with the rat ass bastards running the California government (The Lady’s feeling and certainly not ones shared by this feline foodie) and the Golden State into the ground faster than Brett Favre can throw a football… but I digress…

Whole Foods has opened a new store in the Hollywood District and The Lady journeyed there to check out the competition (aka spying). She reports that the store is beautiful but the cheese area was much smaller than she expected. Also, the number of cheeses that both she and WF carries was quite small. She snagged several “small morsels” of different cheeses she doesn’t carry and brought them home for me to taste and review. The next several reviews will be the cheeses The Man and I sampled from a cheese plate The Lady served last night.

Before I begin my review of the first cheese, let me add one more observation of The Lady. Whole Foods Cheese Stewards, while helpful and friendly (both on duty spoke with her and offered assistance), need to learn how to wrap cheese. The Lady was appalled to discover that the wrapping, rather than smooth and tidy (as at her kiosk), was a big messy lump hidden up under the price tag. Amy, The Queen of Cheese and The Lady’s BCFF, is badly needed to give these folks a lesson in cheese wrapping.

Now to the good stuff…

The first cheese The Man and I tasted last night was Barely Buzzed from the Beehive Cheese Company in Utah. Beehive is one of less than ten artisan cheesemakers in Utah according to Tami Parr and the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project. This artisan cheese is made by two brothers-in-law, Tim Welsh and Pat Ford, who left the fast lanes of software development and real estate to travel in the slow-food lanes of cheesemaking. A very noble move, if you ask me. In 2005 they began making cheese from morning milkings of Jersey cows and turning their milk into handmade cheese. Their cheese recipes were developed with the ag department at the Utah State University.

Barely Buzzed, a name that was submitted by a fan through a contest to “name this cheese”, is a cheddar that has been rubbed with a combination of coffee grinds and lavender buds (the coffee grinds come from the Legacy Coffee Company, owned by Tim’s brother, another retiree from the fast lane) diluted with oil to suspend the dry ingredients in the rub.

The coffee and lavender are much more prevalent at the edges but can be tasted in the center paste as well. The Man claims he could taste a bit of cinnamon but I did not pick up that taste nuance. The cheese is buttery and melts on the tongue as you savor its butterscotch and caramel flavors. It crumbles as a good cheddar should.

The Beehive Cheese Company makes many more cheeses and I have urged The Lady to bring home for me to taste and enjoy.

According to the WF labels, this cheese is vegetarian suitable which means a vegetable rennet is used to start the cheese making process.

I give Barely Buzzed 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (because that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: This cheese is perfect on a cheese plate which is how The Lady presented it to us. This cheese should go well with a cup of espresso with a little honey drizzled on top.

Wine Pairing: Sangiovese

Beer Pairing: Stout

Source: Jersey Cow Milk

Awards: First Place, Flavored Cheddar, American Cheese Society Annual Competition, 2007, 2008, 2009