The Lady has plans for Saturday, June 19th (and as hard as it is to believe, this Feline Foodie isn’t referring to the U.S. Open – that will be recording on the DVR…) and if you’re in the Pacific Northwest, she wants you to join her and the Northwest Epicurean Society.

On June 19th NW Epicurean is hosting a tour of  the Chehalis Valley and will pair the Valley’s decadent artisan cheeses with regional micro-brews.

We will begin in Olympia, WA at 10 am and via tour coach proceed into the Chehalis Valley to tour five local dairies to sample cheeses paired with regional micro-brews.

Our first visit will be with Brad and Meg Gregory at Black Sheep Creamery (The Lady and I recently sampled one of their fresh cheeses mixed with some garlic and rosemary, which I’ll be reviewing here before tour date).

Our second stop will be Twin Oaks Creamery; we will then travel to our third stop, Blue Rose Creamery, our fourth stop will be Rosecrest Creamery, and our fifth stop will be Willapa Hills Creamery , home of one of The Lady’s favorite cheeses, Two Faced Blue.

Willapa Hills Creamery is hosting our “farm to table” meal prepared by a regional chef who will highlight local ingredients. A portion of his ingredients will be foraged from the Chehalis Valley. The dinner will also feature two wines from the region’s Award-Winning Scatter Creek Winery.

 We will return safely to Olympia, WA by 7pm.

 Private Tour, Limited Seating

 Must be 21 or older. (I am 35 in feline years… does that qualify? Safe money says I will be somewhere on that tour… stay tuned…)

 Please Contact Marieke at Marieke[at]NWEpicurean[dot]com for more information

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June 15: Update: The Lady decided to build a display of Cheese Wedding Cakes for the Kiosk. The above slideshow has the display, along with the original cake… The Lady has come a long way in a short time.

A customer came into the store this week and discussed having a cheese wedding cake with The Lady. She wanted it to be tiered like a traditional wedding cake. Her fiancé asked that one layer be a Blue and the bride-to-be, Julie, wanted a triple crème layer.

The Lady suggested Stilton Blue as the bottom layer and Pierre Robert for the top layer. Julie immediately agreed. The middle layer took a bit more thought and tasting. Julie chose Roth Kase Gran Queso as the middle layer; she loved the taste and it was the perfect size and look for the cake.

In addition to cheese cake; the wedding couple was also offering a wedding cake made of Voodoo Doughnuts:

Something old; Something new.

Something sweet and Something Savory, too!!

The Lady recently met Kim, the GM at Golden Glen Creamery in Bow, Washington. The creamery had a Farmer’s Market “emergency” searching for personnel to man or woman one of its booths. The Lady, after obtaining my permission, of course, posted a “Help Wanted” on our blog to assist in finding the right cheesy person. As a thank you, Kim sent several of their cheeses and their farmstead butter.

Last night, as part of our cheese plate, The Lady served the butter for enjoyment on the fresh, hot baguette that accompanied the cheeses and… my, oh, my… this is butter.

I have to tell you, my loyal readers, The Man was especially obnoxious last night… as opposed to his regular obnoxiousness, which can rise to some fairly high levels, especially when he and The Lady put that bubbly stuff in my ear that hurts… but I digress…

The Man swooned and then planted his own personal flag in this butter; he just wasn’t going to share with The Lady or your favorite Feline Foodie (that would be me). Finally, The Lady took over, as she so often does (those of you who know her won’t find this surprising) and told The Man that either he shared or she would withhold something called marital affection. The Man suggested that would also punish her; but I noticed he backed off and allowed The Lady and me to partake in this heavenly, creamy, sweet spread.

Golden Glen Farmstead Butter is made of cream, milk and salt – no additives; no preservatives; no nothing; nada; zipola…

We like butter around the manse and I have a sneaking suspicion that we may be making monthly pilgrimages to Bow, Washington… the Mecca of the best butter in the Pacific Northwest…

I give Golden Glen Farmstead Butter 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: Anytime you need/want butter, think of Golden Glen. You can spread it on anything, including butter (just kidding) and you can cook with it – it will make anything you bake, sauté or cook all the better for adding Golden Glen Farmstead Butter.

Source: Pasteurized Milk

I will be reviewing the other fine cheeses of Golden Glen Creamery, located in Bow, Washington in the next few days… stay tuned.

FTC Full Disclosure – The cheesemaker/manufacturer sent me their product, hoping I would review the product/cheese.

From the Lombardy region, Gorgonzola is one of Italy’s oldest cheeses. It is named after the village that was once a resting place for cattle returning from their summer grazing in the Alpine pastures.

David, one of The Lady’s favorite cheese friends, gave her a sample piece to bring home for his favorite feline foodie (that would be me) to review for you, my loyal readership. Thanks, by the way, we are approaching 60K hits in less than 22 months of writing about my favorite food (that would be cheese). When the day comes and I am about to return to the Mothership and The Brain, unlike those aliens in Men in Black, I’ll be stuffing my bags with every imaginable cheese that humankind has to offer. And if there is extra room, I’ll also include some Golden Glen Creamery’s Farmstead Butter… but I digress… according to The Lady I do that a lot…

This particular offering of Gorgonzola was produced by the Mauri Company and I have to tell you I was, constantly throughout the cheese plate dinner, fighting The Man to get my fair share of this Gorgonzola. Someone really needs to explain the humankind concept of “sharing” to him. You’d think David sent this sample home to The Man…hello… he sent it home to the Feline Foodie and let me say it one more time…that would be me!!

The blue veining in this gorgonzola is almost a navy hue making for a beautiful cheese on the cheese plate The Lady had prepared. I’ll be reviewing all four cheeses today and although this was the last we tasted, I decided to throw cheese caution to the wind and review it first… I hope I’m not breaking some cheese plate etiquette and if I am… well… who gives a Rattus norvegicus’ patooty? Actually, that sounds better the way The Lady says it when she’s not talking like a lady… Oops… that digression thing again…

We had fresh, warm French baguette with the cheese plate and this Gorgonzola was perfect on the bread: rich, creamy and just spicy enough without over-powering the palate. As mentioned above, The Man would have eaten it all if I hadn’t put my paw down…

The Lady doesn’t carry this cheese at her cheese kiosk and this is a loss for her customers… my guess is that David has plans to change this and The Lady and I are both hoping he is successful.

I give the Mauri Gorgonzola 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got… unless there’s something in the local water that might change that at a later date… just saying…)

Serving Suggestions: Cheese Plate; with grapes, pears and most any other fruit; it would also make a killer salad dressing… I also came across this Gorgonzola Cream Sauce (for filet mignon) at foodchannel.com and since The Lady has a ribeye (which was dry-aged for 28 days) on the menu for this evening… you do the math…

Wine Pairings: Dessert wines are the best with Gorgonzola of this quality: a Port or a Muscat.

Beer Pairing: Robust, yeasty Trappist-style ale would be a perfect pairing to stand-up to this cheese.

Source: Pasteurized Cow’s Milk

Trivia: The mold in blue cheeses starts out green and oxidation is what turns it blue… and as it ages it turns darker.

FTC Full Disclosure – The cheesemaker/manufacturer sent me their product, hoping I would review the product/cheese.

Last week in Wisconsin, one of the stops we made on the Wisconsin Cheese Tour was a Cheese Trade Show in Madison where The Lady participated in “speed cheesing”; spending between 10 and 15 minutes with a cheesemaker and then moving on… to the next cheesemaker. One of the companies with whom The Lady met was Pasture Pride, a cheese factory in SW Wisconsin owned by Kevin and Kim Everhart.  Master Cheesemaker, Tom Torkleson, whom The Lady also met, makes their fine line of cheeses, which include Cheddars, Muenster, Colby Pepper Jack, Natural Valley Artisan Cheeses and their unique “Baked Cheese”, Juusto. All of these cheeses are made from rBST-free cow milk. They also make a goat version of Juusto, named Guusto.

These folks buy their milk from the Amish dairy farmers in the area, which is delivered to the factory in chilled milk cans… the old-fashioned way.

Representing Pasture Pride at the trade show was Bentley Lein, who offered samples of their complete line of cheeses, including the Juusto, which he sautéed and served warm. It was a hit.

Reminiscent of Halloumi (made from sheep milk), this cheese is low in fat which makes it a perfect grilling cheese. It gets gooey but it doesn’t melt.

Juusto is a buttery-flavored, flat, squeaky cheese that has been made in Scandinavia for more than 200 years. It is called Juusto-leipa” or “Ostbrod”, which means “bread cheese”.

After the cheese is made, Pasture Pride bakes each piece to create a sweet caramelized, toasted crust similar to a brown bread.

Bentley was kind enough to give The Lady a package of the Juusto and the goat version, Guusto, to bring home and serve to The Man and your favorite Feline Foodie (that would be me).

The Man built a charcoal fire on the deck grill and while the coals were heating up, The Lady cleaned and sautéed some local, fresh asparagus spears to serve with the cheeses.

After grilling, The Lady cut the Juusto into squares and the Guusto into strips to distinguish the two for tasting.

The Man took the first bite and after he stopped swooning, he declared, “WOW!! This is great. I can eat this forever.”  That was the Juusto. Then he sampled the Guusto and once again, there was some serious swooning before he declared it a winner as well.

Here’s what I think. This is killer cheese. Both the cow version and the goat version. Even The Lady liked the goat version and we all know how few goat cheeses capture her favorably. You do notice the “goat” tang but it is quite pleasing. The charcoal flavor added just the right amount of smoke to the cheese.

The Lady is hoping that the corporate honchos will approve these cheeses for selling on the cheese island at the store. It would be less expensive than the Halloumi and because it is offered in cow and goat milk, the three would be the trifecta of grilling cheeses.

At the trade show, The Lady also sampled the Italian Juusto and the “Pocket” Juusto (stuffed with cheddar) and tells me these are both winners as well. The pocket version is like a grilled cheese without bread… perfect for the cheese lover; cheese stuffed with cheese… it juusto doesn’t get any better…

Did I mention it squeaks? Well, it does, just like cheese curds. This squeaking thing causes visions of Mus musculus to dance before my eyes… but I prefer the Juusto and Guusto… less hunting…

I give Juusto and Guusto 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: These cheeses can be served as appetizer, entrée or dessert. Top it with mushrooms, asparagus or grilled onions. As a dessert, serve it with jam or honey or Ficoco Spread.

Wine Pairing: A nice Pinot Gris would pair well with this cheese.

Beer Pairing: Full-bodied dark beer.

Source: Juusto is from cow milk and Guusto comes from the goat.

Awards: We found references to awards, but nothing specific.

FTC Full Disclosure – The cheesemaker/manufacturer sent me their product, hoping I would review the product/cheese.

Sweetest Thing

In today’s economy, opening any new business has got to be beyond scary. Matt Mancelotta and Vic Corbi in Catonsville, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore, through caution to the wind and opened Grilled Cheese & Company last month with hopes of opening a second storefront by July.

The concept is simple: grilled cheese sandwiches – ten in all on their menu. One of the two priced at $7.50 is the Sweetest Thing, a gooey delight of brie, mascarpone and raspberry preserves with chocolate chips grilled on challah bread… oh my…

The Sweet and Sassy at $8 is the most expensive with ingredients of mango chutney, brie and prosciutto ham.

The Original grilled cheese they offer is made with… you guessed it … slices of orange American Cheese between two slices of white bread “the way your mom made it” says co-owner Vic Corbi… however, the cheese is actually real brick cheese, not the processed kind and the bread comes from a local bakery. It’s $5.00 and for $4.oo more you can add a cup of tomato soup…but again, not the can, but a creamy tomato basil with chunks of fresh tomato and shreds of fresh basil… you can still dip the sandwich in the soup, just like we did as kids…

The menu includes the Fresco at $7; mozzarella, roasted red peppers and pesto on ciabatta and the Veggie Delight (also $7) made with havarti, roasted veggies and olive spread on whole-grain bread.

There is a crabby melt made with Monterey Jack and a schmear of blue crab dip (7.50) and a Blue Ox ($7), marinated grilled beef steak with blue cheese and horseradish sauce (made on the premises).

All of the sandwiches are made to order using Panini grills. The bread comes from a local bakery, Cardinal Bakery in Sterling, Virginia.

The menu also includes salads, monthly specials, soups and fries, including sweet potato fries.

Grilled Cheese and Company is located at 500 Edmondson Avenue, Catonsville, MD 21228
410-747-2610 Open Daily 11-9

Beer me!!

Join Jason and Todd Alstrom of BeerAdvocate as they host the Third Annual American Beer Craft Festival June 18 & 19 for the return of the east coast’s largest celebration of American craft beer at the Seaport World Trade Center Boston, featuring more than 75 American brewers and more than 300 craft beers, and plenty of beer education!

There will be 3 sessions and each session costs $40.00 a person and includes:

  1. Entry into one session (You must be 21 and have valid ID)
  2. All 2oz beer tastings
  3. Access to over 325 craft beers
  4. Festival guide
  5. Tasting Cup

You can buy tickets online here or by calling (877) 725 8849 (Fees will apply).

Now as you gear up to taste 325 craft beers, enjoy the BeerAdvocate Videos: