Member, Association of Food Bloggers

One of our favorite cheese memories was hanging with the Cheese Swells last year in Seattle for the 2010 ACS Conference. Fortunately or unfortunately (looking at it from both sides), The Lady spent this year’s ACS Conference time in Denver opening a new Murray’s Cheese at the Glendale King Soopers.

On Friday, the ACS announced its 2011 cheese competition winners and the Pacific Northwest brought home the Best of Show for the second time in the past three years with Rogue River Blue. It was a bittersweet win for David Gremmels and Cary Bryant of Central Point, Oregon’s Rogue Creamery. The American Artisan Cheese World lost its Godfather, Ig Vella, this year and in the early 2000’s Ig sold Rogue Creamery to David and Cary… but only after teaching them to make cheese… Ig was a very wise man in so many ways but to require the men to learn the art was one of his wisest demands…

For a complete list of winners, please click here.

The list below is of partial winners; all of which The Lady and I have reviewed:

Best of Show: Rogue River Blue

2nd Place (Tie): Carr Valley’s Cave Aged Marisa


Winners in their respective categories:

Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese’s Mascarpone (1st)

Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery’s Mascarpone (3rd)

Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam (2nd)

Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery’s Coupole (2nd)

Cypress Grove’s Humboldt Fog Grande (3rd)

Beecher’s Flagsheep (3rd)

Sartori’s Reserve BellaVitano Gold (3rd)

Tumalo Farm’s Rimrocker (2nd)

Sartori’s Limited Edition Pastorale Blend (3rd)

Beehive Cheese Company’s Barely Buzzed (1st)

Rogue Creamery’s Chocolate Stout Cheddar (3rd)

Beecher’s Marco Polo Reserve (1st)

Beecher’s Four Year Flagship (2nd)

Tillamook County Creamery Association’s Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar (3rd)

Beecher’s Flagship Reserve (3rd)

DCI Cheese Company’s Salemville Blue Cheese (2nd)

DCI Cheese Company’s Black River Gorgonzola (3rd)

Hook’s Cheese Company’s Little Boy Blue (1st)… Boy did The Lady and miss it on this one…

Emmi Roth USA’s Gran Queso (2nd)

BelGioioso’s Cheese’s Sharp Provolone Mandarino (3rd)

Sartori’s Sarvecchio Parmesan (1st)

BelGioioso’s Burrata (1st)

Sartori’s Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano (1st)

Beecher’s Smoked Flagship (3rd)

Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese’s Petit Frere Reserve (3rd)

Tumalo Farms’ Classico (1st)

Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery’s Crottin (3rd)

Sartori’s Reserve Merlot BellaVitano (3rd)

Vermont Butter and Cheese Company’s Crème Fraiche (1st)

Vermont Butter and Cheese Company’s Cultured Butter (3rd)

LaClare Farms Specialties’ Evalon (1st)

Uplands Cheese’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve (1st)

Consider Bardwell Farm’s Rupert (2nd)

Widmer’s Cheese Cellars’ Washed Rind Traditional Brick (3rd)


The Lady and I have at least 100 more cheeses to review and many of them won awards at this year’s ACS Competition including the following winners:

Tillamook County Creamery’s Monterey Jack; Tillamook County Creamery’s Colby; Carr Valley’s Cocoa Cardona; Carr Valley’s Cave Aged Mellage; Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery’s Cremont (including an ice cream using Cremont); Carr Valley’s Caso Bolo Mellage;Carr Valley’s Billy Blue; Rogue Creamery’s Echo Mountain; Cello Riserva Copper Kettle Parmesan; Sartori’s Reserve Espresso BellaVitano; Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy’s Green Chile Jack; Emmi Roth’s Rofumo; Spring Brook’s Tarentaise; Cypress Grove’s Purple Haze… stay tuned…


Up next on the blog (later today): Looking Back… Looking Forward: Cheesemonger’s Weblog Celebrates it’s Third Year Anniversary This Week… that’s a lot of blogging…

"Something Old; Something New; Something Stinky and Something Blue"

The Lady has been back from her trip to New York and Murray’s Cheese Boot Camp for a few days and has been especially attentive; she knows I am annoyed; I know she knows I am annoyed… which I, of course, use to my advantage.

The Lady explained that Murray’s is yet another one of those “No Pets Allowed” places…” we gotta keep those pesky dogs and cats away from where we sell and serve food”… I am more than willing to put my personal cleaning habits up against any humankind, any day of the week. Unlike many, maybe even most, humankinds, this Feline Foodie is fastidious when it comes to cleanliness… in my not-so-humble opinion, there are far more humankinds who shouldn’t be allowed inside food establishments than cats… as for dogs, there are so many other reasons to ban them… but I will save that argument for another day.

Since The Lady started her new cheese adventure, she has been traveling a lot and always comes home smelling of cheeses… lots of cheeses… ones of which I can only dream. At least while she’s away, I have The Man”Servant” at my beck and call. He is one easy dude to get to do most everything I wish… but I digress.

The Lady returned with wonderful tales of the cheeses in the cases at Murray’s and the cheeses she tasted during boot camp; a total of seventy-five plus many wines and several beers… as mentioned (numerous times), she gets the glory; while I do the heavy-lifting…

She took a photo of the cheese plate that followed the tour of Murray’s Cheese Caves… be still my heart… caves filled with cheese…

Affinage is the specialized art of aging cheese. The affineur finds the best sources for cheese and then nurtures them to their optimum ripeness for the best flavor of the cheese. This includes brushing, washing, bathing and turning to promote everything good in the cheese and keep the bad “stuff” out.

Brian, Murray’s resident affineur, led the class on a tour of the caves which Conde Nast Traveler named one of the 50 Coolest Places to be in the world. After the tour, he served a cheese plate that reflected the many talents involved in being a successful affineur.

The plate started with two wedges of Haystack Peak, a soft-ripened cheese produced by Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy in Colorado. (A detailed review will be posted soon.) The first wedge of this cheese was new and the second was aged about two weeks. While both were delicious, the aging made a good cheese only better.

Next on the plate were two wedges of Petite Frères, from one of our favorites, Wisconsin’s Crave Brothers. The first wedge was “as produced” by the Brothers, a wonderful small wheel of a fruity, earthy washed rind semi-soft cow milk cheese. The second wedge had been washed by Brian in a local brewery ale. Brian was experimenting with a new wash and the improvement to the cheese was amazing.

St. Nectaire, a French cheese from the Auvergne region of Central France was the next cheese up on the plate. This is an AOC –protected cheese. This is a washed-rind Tomme-style cheese that is shipped at the age of two weeks to the affineur for another six weeks of aging before the dense paste reaches perfection and is ready for the consumer. We will be reviewing this cheese in the next few days.

Up next were two versions of Cabot Creamery’s Aged Cheddar. The first was a creamy wedge of their cheddar that is shipped in cryovac to grocery stores national-wide. A very respectable wedge of cheese; one that appeared at the Burbank manse more than once. This is what The Lady and I like to call “an everyday cheese” – one that is respectable in its taste profile and inexpensive enough to have available for everyday use.

The second version from Cabot was their Clothbound Cheddar which is aged by the Cellars at Jasper Hills in Vermont.  With absolutely no disrespect to cryovac cheddars, once you’ve had a clothbound cheddar, you’ll never go back.

Following the cheddars was a wedge of Black River Blue; an award-winning blue cheese from Wisconsin. A milder blue that is slightly softer than butter and easily spreadable on a baguette for “everyday” enjoyment. Black River Gorgonzola is one of the “everyday” cheeses you can find around the manse.

The final cheese on the plate was Bayley Hazen Blue from the Kehler Brothers of Jasper Hills Farm in the northeast kingdom of Vermont. This is a cheese I have been dying to taste and thankfully, The Lady shipped a wedge home in her luggage for The Man and moi to taste and enjoy.  A review of this cheese will follow this Cheese Plate posting… but let’s just say, I’ll be using all my paws…

The Lady thanks Brian for leading the boot camp on a tour of the caves and if you would like to tour the caves, Murray’s Cheese offers tours of the cave along with many other great, cheesy classes at its Greenwich Village location. Check out their array of classes here.

April is Grilled Cheese Month and we’re celebrating at our Cheesemonger Recipe Blog by posting a new Grilled Cheese Sandwich everyday of the month.

Here are the Grilled Cheese Sandwiches we have created and posted so far:

April 1 – Crave Brothers Mascarpone Grilled Cheese Dessert Combo

April 2 – Old Amsterdam Grilled Cheese

April 3 – Saxon Homestead Saxony and Pear Grilled Cheese

April 4 – Grand Margaux Brie Grilled Cheese

April 5 – Neal’s Yard/Appleby’s Cheshire and Sausage Grilled Cheese on Crumpets

April 6Tillamook Tilly’s Dilly of a Grilled Cheese

April 7 – Joel’s Grilled Pimento Cheese

April 8 The Man’s Roast Beef and Horseradish Cheddar Grilled Cheese

April 9 Marco Polo and Raspberry Grilled Cheese

April 10 – Croatian Grilled Cheese

April 11 – Beemster Mustard and Bacon Grilled Cheese

April 12Just Cheese Grilled Cheese

April 13 – Midnight Moon Gouda and Olives

April 14 – Raw Milk Manchego, Jamon Iberico and Membrillo

April 15 – The Tax Man Cometh Grilled Cheese

April 16 – Smoked Dorset Red and Bangers Grilled Cheese

April 17 – Lincolnshire Poacher and Asparagus Grilled Cheese

April 18 – Jarlsberg, Mortadella and Apples Grilled Cheese

April 19 – No Woman and Jerk Chicken Grilled Cheese

April 20 – Falling Back in Love with Parrano Grilled Cheese

April 21 – Woman of LaMancha and Flame-Crafted Ham Grilled Cheese

April 22 – Oregonzola and Steak Grilled Cheese

April 23 – Sartori Bellavitano Gold and Capocollo Grilled Cheese

April 24 – BelGioioso Fontina and Sylvilagus Audubonii Grilled Cheese

April 25 – Ossau Iraty and Camelus bactrianus Grilled Cheese

April 26 – Cotswold Pub Cheese and Axis calamianensis Grilled Cheese

April 27 – Denhay Farmhouse Cheddar and Marmota vancouverenis Grilled Cheese

April 28 – In Honor of The Queen Grilled Cheese

April 29 – William and Kate’s Lamb Confit Bubble and Squeak Grilled Cheese

April 30 – The House Mouse Grilled Cheese

We also offer 10 Simple Steps to Build a Grilled Cheese

Please subscribe to our Cheesemonger Recipe Blog to get a daily update of new grilled cheese recipes as we post them…

The Lady has become a participating writer and cheese editor at a new food website:

Please chek out her cheese plate by clicking here.

The photo of the cheese plate was taken by The Man…well… he is The Man…

These are some of the pictures The Lady took this week in Wisconsin. Enjoy!!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Wisconsin Cheese Tour 2010“, posted with vodpod


This was the second visit to The Crave Brothers in Waterloo. The Lady and I are big fans of the Crave Brothers’ Farmstead cheeses, especially their Mascarpone and Les Frères washed-rind, a true Wisconsin Original. The Lady bought both the Mascarpone and Petite Frères when the group visited Woodsons earlier in the trip.

Debbie Crave met the group and escorted them into the tasting room where she and Beth treated them to samples of their cheeses plus original recipes using their cheeses. Sampled and greatly enjoyed were the fresh mozzarella, marinated mozzarella balls, Farmer’s Rope, Mascarpone and Les Frères. The dishes included a baked dish of various mushrooms and Les Frères and two yummy desserts; the chocolate mascarpone pie and a sugar cup with a custard made using the mascarpone.

The group watched a video telling the story of the farm and the four brothers. The farm consists of 1700 acres and 1200 cows of which 2/3 produce milk daily throughout the year.

In 2000, the four brothers made the decision to take the family into cheese making in order to support the family now and into the future. Each brother has a specific specialty: Thomas is in charge of the crops and farm equipment maintenance; Charles specializes in the care of the animals and also does some of the paperwork necessary to run the farm; Mark oversees the milking and George is the licensed cheesemaker.

The farm crops include corn, soybeans and alfalfa; all used to feed the herd. They fertilize with manure and use a minimal amount of tilling to maintain the land properly.

In 2007 they installed an anaerobic digester which processes all the waste from the cows and turns it into energy.  The energy in turn provides enough power for the entire farm plus 500 homes in the area. They sell all of the electricity to the power company and then buy it back as they don’t have the right equipment to transmit the power properly. In addition to the power, the digester provides fertilizer and potting soil which can also be used for bedding for the herd. I’m doing some research on this responsible approach to farm waste and will have a separate post on this subject in the next few days.

The animals are pastured in the spring and summer. They are happy cows and have their own society within the herd. Certain cows hang out together and a pecking order is established.

They use 100K pounds of feed a day which in addition to pasture foliage includes cottonseed, salt and whey. The diets are designed to meet the needs of the various situations such as a formula for pregnant cows and another for older cows and a third for overweight animals.

Due to the outstanding treatment of their cows, the milk yield per cow is about 30K pounds of milk per yield, while the national average is 20K.

There are 4 licensed cheesemakers at Crave Brothers with a combined experience of 60 years. They produced 10K pounds of cheese a day which means they must have 100K pounds of milk daily from their herd. The milking parlor is only 325 feet away from the cheesemaking facility and the milk in pumped through a stainless still pipe that goes under the road.

In 2008 NBC Nightly News featured a short segment on the Crave Brothers and their sustainable practices.

After the sampling and the videos, the group was taken on a tour of the farm and got to see everything up close including the nursery where the female calves live (the male calves are sold to local beef farmers). Shown here is a calf that befriended The Lady.

The Lady’s Day 2 begins early with a bus trip from Green Bay to the BelGioioso Glenmore Plant in Denmark. Last year she visited two of their other plants (Bellevue and Chase). She has stayed in touch with both Gaetano and Dave, who work there and she sells several BelGioioso products including two of her favorites: American Grana and Fontina. Although Gaetano will not be at the plant next week, he promised “lots of Burrata for Spaulding”. Now, that’s a prince of a guy and I thank him from the bottom of my cheesy heart…

From BelGioioso, the group heads to Salemville Cheese in Cambria. Salemville Cheese is collectively managed by an Amish community committed to sustainable agriculture. Amish farmers, with herds ranging from four to 25 cows, deliver milk daily in 80-pound milk cans for cheesemaking. They produce award-winning blue and gorgonzola cheeses which The Lady sells on the cheese island located next to her kiosk.

That afternoon, the tour will attend a trade Expo at the Marriott Madison West. No doubt the word “trade” translates to more cheese to sample.

Day 3 begins with a tour of Roth Kase in Monroe, where The Lady was part of the group that made Grand Cru Gruyere and Gran Queso cheeses which The Lady now sells at the kiosk. Since her visit last year, Roth Kase has completed its merger with the Swiss “Big Cheese” Emmi.

From Roth Kase, the group will travel to Waterloo and visit with the Crave Brothers, home of the greatest mascarpone The Lady has ever brought home to the manse. Last year, Debbie Crave served them a chocolate cheese cake made with that mascarpone and when The Lady recalls that cheese cake, she weeps; it was that good!! The Crave Brothers also operate a sustainable farm and literally turn s**t into shinola. They power the entire farm with their cow poo and even sell the leftovers to the grid.

It sounds like a lot of fun; I can hardly wait…

The Wisconsin Cheese Plate

January 15, 2010

Reviewed by Guest Critic, The Man

The Wife (aka The Lady to all of you) made a wonderful homemade Italian Bean and Pasta soup yesterday with sweet Italian sausages, made fresh at the Hawthorne Fred Meyer in Portland. That was our lunch. The Wife called it “Pasta Fagioli”. Personally I prefer “bean and pasta” which according to The Wife is exactly the Italian translation. After such a delightful and filling lunch, which she served with fresh baked sourdough bread (the “take and bake” version) from the Portland French Bakery, The Wife decided a simple Wisconsin Cheese Plate was all The Man and The Cat needed for dinner.

That’s right I called Spaulding Gray “The Cat”; after all, that’s what he is. He may fancy himself to be a “Feline Foodie” and “Portland’s Premiere Feline Cheese Critic” but at the end of the day, he’s a cat. Okay, around here, he’s THE cat, but he’s still a cat. And this garbage that The Cat and The Wife perpetuate about her only “spell-checking” for The Cat; well that’s all it is: garbage. In the dead of night when The Cat and The Wife think I am asleep, I have caught them on more than one occasion working on this very blog together with The Wife doing the typing while The Cat looks over her shoulder and dictates his reviews.

But to quote The Cat… I digress…

The Wife’s friend and Co-Worker, Nate, returned this week from Mecca (aka Wisconsin) and brought The Cat new cheeses to review plus he delivered a special request for Crave Brothers Farmstead Mascarpone, arguably the best Mascarpone made in America. The cheese haul Nate brought also included Roth Kase Butterkase; Green Olive White Cheddar from Jim’s Cheese Pantry (Which calls itself the “Cheese Cut-out Capital of the World”) in Waterloo, Wisconsin and Hook’s Little Boy Blue (made from sheep milk) which came from Dee’s Cheese n More in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. The Cat wants to review Hook’s Little Boy Blue but asked me, The Man, to give his thoughts on the other three.

The Wife added Sartori’s Bellavitano Gold (from her cheese island) to the cheese plate and as that was my personal favorite (on this particular plate), I’ll begin there.

I have as yet to meet a cheese filled with those crunchy little flavor bursts that I didn’t like. (The Cat has informed me they are Calcium Lactate crystals and then he snarkily added I should know that if I were actually reading the blog regularly. Now, The Cat has attitude. I know, a cat with attitude; what a concept.) Sartori Bellavitano Gold is slightly sweet and crumbly and then those Calcium Lactate crystals burst in your mouth. At room temperature, this cheese emits a bit of oil (The Cat again snarkily advised me that it’s called butterfat) that coats the palate and adds to its enjoyment.

I don’t have Paws; therefore, I give Sartori’s Bellavitano Gold Two Thumbs Up out of Two Thumbs (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Before I review the next two cheeses that Nate brought back from Wisconsin, I have to take a moment to discuss the packaging of two of the pieces of cheese. In Wisconsin, cheese is King, and as such Dee’s Cheese n More evidently doesn’t give a rat’s ass about presentation. This is in no way meant to sound like a criticism; it’s an observation. The two pieces of cheese from Dee’s had thick white butcher-type paper on the outside (and no it was not formaticum) held together with masking tape. The inside piece of cheese was wrapped in cellophane wrap and simply folded together. You have to know your market and my guess is that Dee knows hers. And most likely it’s they don’t give a rat’s ass about presentation as long as the cheese is good.

And as long as I’m wandering off the reservation a bit (but still staying close to the cheese mines), the great retailers of cheese in Wisconsin lack that certain snobbiness that many of the cheesemongers on both the left and right coast of the US have. For example, on Dee’s Cheese n More website, there’s a picture of a woman posing in a cow suit with her udders hanging out. Safe money says it’s Dee. And what respectable cheese shop on the east or west coast would boast being “the cheese cut-out capital of the world”? As down-to-earth as The Wife fancies herself to be, I can’t see her running around in a cow suit strutting her udders; and for that I am grateful. Again, if the cheese is good, who gives a rat’s ass about the presentation?

The piece from Dee’s I will review is Roth Kase Butterkase. This is a semi-soft cheese similar in texture to Port Salut; maybe even creamier. It is the color of rich butter and it melts on the palate just like butter. The taste is mild and, well, buttery. Roth Kase makes it using old world traditions that the founders brought with them from Switzerland back in the day.

I bet this cheese would make a killer grilled cheese and I plan to find out in the next day or two while The Wife is away at the cheesemines and The Cat is napping. BTW, he does that on average eighteen hours a day. Can you imagine having a life as easy as that of a house cat???

I give the Roth Kase Butterkase Two Thumbs Up out of Two Thumbs (cause that’s all I’ve got).

The third cheese on the Wisconsin Cheese Plate was a Green Olive White Cheddar which came from Jim’s Cheese Pantry and was made by the cheesemakers at Brunkow Cheese. A little history on Brunkow. This cheese manufacturer is a cooperative of 30-32 dairy farmers in the Darlington, Wisconsin area that formed the cooperative in 1899. They chose their name after the farmer who donated the land to build the cheese factory. As in 1899, the position of cheesemaker draws his salary from a percentage of the company’s gross income (the cheesemakers today are third-generation family members of the co-op). Visitors are welcome at their plant and can purchase their fine cheeses to take home; a recent visitor took home fifty pounds of cheese for family and friends. They also offer cheese platters for the locals to serve at their parties and other special occasions.

I liked the Green Olive the least of the cheeses, although I did like it. It was a bit on the bland side and the olives and pimentos didn’t “pop” or stand out. I found the texture to be a bit mealy. It might do better in a quesadilla with a little jalapeno added to give it some legs.

I give the Green Olive White Cheddar One Thumb Up out of Two Thumbs (cause that’s all I’ve got) although I would like to add a couple of kudos to the cooperative itself. For me, that’s what American business should be about; cooperating for the common good of the local community.

After The Wife removed the Wisconsin Cheese Plate, she brought out dessert of Crave Brothers Farmstead Mascarpone which she served with Anna’s Ginger Thins. I had to fight The Cat two falls out of three to get my fair share. There’s a lot to be said for having opposable thumbs in this world rather than clipped dew claws.

We had this exact dessert on one other occasion when The Wife returned from her Cheesemaking trip last spring to Wisconsin. The Crave Brothers Mascarpone was just as good last night as it was last May. Maybe even better. I wonder when Nate will journey to Wisconsin again. The Wife has got to find a steady supplier of this sublime cheese.

Unlike The Cat, I included my serving suggestions in the text of my review. To me, that is a bit more streamline and tidier. (The Cat’s not the only one around here who can be snarky.)

As for pairings with wine and beer, my philosophy is whatever floats your boat.

The source on all of these cheeses was cow milk; most likely Holstein as Wisconsin is over-run with those black and white bovine.

Now back to The Cat.

The Lady has discovered that Customers are often reluctant to ask in-depth questions about cheese and instead either ask her to recommend a cheese she (or I) like or they’ll just pick a cheese that sounds or looks “familiar”.

Your favorite Feline Foodie and Tillamook Cheese Fan of the Month for November (that would be me) thought it might be a good time to start short tutorials about the basics of cheese.

First up: the eight basic styles of cheese – all cheeses fall into one of the following categories and understanding what each style is can help make your next cheese-buying trip anxiety-free and more enjoyable.

Fresh Cheese:  Any cheese that does not undergo any ripening period is a fresh cheese. These cheeses have high moisture content; are mild in taste and have a creamy texture. Fresh cheeses include cottage cheese, cream cheese, and ricotta. While mostly bland, they improve, taste-wise, when mixed with other flavors such as herbs, fruit and sweeteners. These cheeses often have acidic or citrus taste and also the taste of fresh milk. Most of these cheeses should be eaten within a few days to a couple weeks of when the package is opened. These cheeses have a short “Use-by” date.

Other fresh cheeses include Cotija, some Mozzarellas, Queso Fresco, Mascarpone, Feta, Vermont Butter and Cheese Company Fromage Blanc, Fresh Goat Cheese aka Chevre, Bel Gioioso Burrata, Crave Brothers Mascarpone, Vermont Butter and Cheese Company Crottin, Valencay, Cabecous Feuilles, Bel Gioioso Crescenza-Stracchino and BelGioioso Tiramisu Mascarpone.

Soft-Ripened Cheese: These are cheeses that ripen from the outside in and are soft even when chilled and can be runny when out at room temperature. The outside rind is often a white, bloomy rind that has been sprayed with a mold, usually penicillium candidum, before a short aging period. The most common cheeses in this category are Brie, Camembert and Triple Creams. In the United States most of these cheeses are made from pasteurized milk; whereas in Europe many of these cheeses are still made from raw milk. Because of the FDA Regulation requiring that raw milk cheeses be aged at least sixty days, most European Cheesemakers make both raw milk and pasteurized versions of their cheeses that fall into this category. I have addressed this issue in a separate posting that you might like to read.

Included in this category are Brie de Nangis, Humboldt Fog, St. Andre, Delice de Bourgogne, St. Albray, Champignon, Cambozola, Pierre Robert, Formager d’Affinois, Crave Brothers Les Freres, Florette, Explorateur, St. Maure, Le Chatelain, Soignon Chevrion Buche, Fourgerus.

Semi-Soft Cheese:  Cheeses in this category have a smooth and mostly creamy interior with little or no rind. Like fresh cheeses, semi-soft cheeses usually have high moisture content and often are very pungent; but can also be quite mild. Raw milk and pasteurized milk are both used in this category. Blues and washed-rind category cheeses can also be in this category.

Semi-soft cheeses include Chaumes, Bel Gioioso Fontina, Havarti, Tillamook Monterey Jack, Bleu D’Auvergne, St. Agur, Bellwether Farms’ Carmody, Roth Kase Petit Swiss, Jarlsberg, Roth Kase ButterKase and young Goudas.

 Washed-Rind Cheese: These cheeses are surface-ripened by washing the cheeses with brine, wine, brandy, beer or other ingredients throughout the aging process. The washing encourages the growth of bacteria and promotes pungent, sometimes very pungent, aromas and are therefore sometimes known as “stinky cheese”. While at Roth-Kase last spring, one of the duties The Lady completed in her Cheesemaking Class was to wash the ripening Gruyere. Also in my review of Taleggio, I state that it is also known as “My Father’s Smelly Feet”. In contrast to their smelly rinds, many of these cheeses are quite mellow and mild in taste such as Epoisses and Taleggio. Both taste absolutely nothing like the way they smell…and that’s a good thing…who would eat cheese that tasted like smelly feet???

Washed-Rind Cheeses include Raclette, Morbier, Epoisses, Taleggio, Pont l’Eveque, Livarot, Le Timanoix, Abondance, Bel Gioioso Italico, Winey Goat and Roth Kase Raclette.

Blue Cheeses: These cheeses have distinctive blue or green veining which is created by injecting penicillium roqueforti mold. This mold adds an easily recognized flavor that ranges from mild to bold and pungent. In Italy these cheeses are called “Gorgonzola”, in France “Bleu” or Roquefort – a protected name and style and in Britain and the US “Blue”.

In this category are Rogue River Blue, Bleu D’Auvergne, Forme d’Ambert, Maytag and Black River Gorgonzola.

Hard/Firm Cheeses: This is a broad category that covers cheeses that may be elastic at room temperature or are hard enough to grate like a Parmesan. Most of the Beemster Premium Goudas fall into this category as do most Cheddars, Swiss-style and Gruyere-style cheeses.

Specific cheeses in the hard category include Beecher’s Flagship Reserve, Comte, Rembrandt Gouda, Parrano, Piave, Grana PadanoParmigiano-Reggiano, Manchego, Idiazabal, Roth Kase Grand Kru, Emmenthal, Tillamook 2-Year Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar,  Beemster XO and Beemster Vlaskaas.

Natural Rind Cheeses: These are cheeses that develop a natural rind during the aging process without the addition of molds and without washing of the rind. Because they age over several weeks, many of these cheeses are made using raw milk. Many “Tomme” style cheese including Tomme de Savoie are in this category. The rind is usually edible but not necessarily tasty and is often gritty – try a nibble before going full steam ahead with the rind.

Other cheeses in this category include Mimolette, Cantalet, Brillat Savarin, Garroxta, English Stilton (also a blue), Shropshire Blue (another blue), Testun and St. Nectaire.

Spun Cheeses: Often called “Pasta Filata”; these cheeses are usually Italian in origin. As the name says, they are cooked and then kneaded (spun). They can be fresh or very hard grating cheeses depending on the producer. The cooking occurs when the curd is exposed to warm water which in turn makes the curd silky and elastic. The softer cheeses are then brined and the harder cheeses are air-dried.

This category includes BelGioioso Burrata, Mozzarella and Scamorza which all have a high moisture content and BelGioiosos Provolone and Caciocovallo with lower moisture content.

(There is a ninth category sometimes included in a list of cheeses but since your humble feline foodie does not consider it cheese, I refuse to really include it here: processed cheese such as Velveeta, “American Cheese” and other cheeses that can withstand a nuclear war…)

Up Next: Cheese 101: What is a Cheesemonger and other Cheese Vocations

2009 Feline Foodie Awards®

Portland, Oregon

For Immediate Release


Spaulding Gray, Portland’s Favorite Feline Foodie and CF(eline)O of the Feline Foodie Awards®, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 Feline Foodie Awards®.

When interviewed, Mr. Gray admitted it had been a grueling and tough job, “But someone had to do it, choosing the “Best of the Best” in cheeses from the Pacific Northwest, Wisconsin, the United States and beyond.”

 Mr. Gray personally sampled and reviewed each winner and added how impressed he was with the high quality of entries.


Best of Show (tie)

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – No Woman

“Beecher’s No Woman is the cheese that started it all,” stated Mr. Gray, “the first cheese The Lady brought home that I fell in love with. I found that it was a perfect pairing with 34° Sesame Crispbread Crackers and peromyscus leucopus pate.”

BelGioioso – Burrata

Per Spaulding Gray, “The first time I tasted this divine little pocket of yummy cream and mozzarella, I thought I had died and gone to cheese heaven. When The Lady visited the BelGioioso Bellevue Plant where Burrata is made, I was so overcome I lost one of my lives…”

 Best Northwest Farmstead Cheese

Willamette Valley Cheese Company Brindisi

“The Willamette Valley Cheese Company, in addition to making a superior Fontina-style cheese (Brindisi), this local cheesemaker is to be commended as a sustainable Jersey Cow dairy farm that is 100% certified organic.” Spaulding added when naming this cheese his favorite farmstead cheese.


Best Bait Cheese

Roth Kase – Petite Swiss

According to Portland’s Favorite Feline Foodie, “Roth Kase Petite Swiss is preferred 10 to 1 by mus musculus living in the Salmon Creek area of SW Washington State.” Now that’s quite a ringing endorsement.


Best Pub Cheese

Clawson Creamery – Cotswold

“I must admit I gravitate to flavored cheeses and Cotswold with its onion and chive taste is right up there as one of the best,” states Mr. Gray.

 Best Flavored Cheese Curds

Golden Age Cheese Company Jalapeno Cheese Curds

“These little squeekers make a terrific snack!!” Spaulding Gray



 Best Everyday Cheeses

“ ‘Everyday’ means the cheese is high quality and yet still affordable for everyday use. Tillamook delivers on so many wonderful cheeses but this is their best.”



Tillamook Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar


Roth Kase Petite Swiss


Black River Gorgonzola


BelGioioso American Grana


Beemster Vlaskaas


   Best Licensed Cheesemaker and Favorite,

Former All-around Party Guy

Roth Kase’s Bob, Wisconsin Licensed Cheesemaker

“Although I was prohibited from accompanying The Lady the day she made cheese with Bob at the Roth Kase Cheese facility, I chose Bob based on how much The Lady liked him…and the fact that he was very patient with her and her other Cheese Stewards who were making cheese that day”. Spaulding Gray added that he trusts The Lady’s instincts as though they were his own.




Cheese Banned From French Public Transportation

Berthaut Epoisses

At room temperature, this cheese is pungent enough to set off the neighbors and have them calling the EPA to report the possibility of a toxic leak. “But, without compare, this is the tastiest Camembert that this Feline Foodie has tasted. I would give at least one of my lives to always have Epoisses at the manse. Ooh, la, la…I love this cheese,” Spaulding Gray exclaimed enthusiastically.

 Special Award:

Sustainable Farming: Turning Sh*t Literally into Shinola

Wisconsin’s Crave Brothers

When The Lady went to Wisconsin to make cheese, one of the cheesemakers her group visited was the Crave Brothers of Waterloo. This farmstead cheesemaker makes the best Mascarpone I have ever tasted.

But above and beyond their superior cheeses, the four brothers literally turn sh*t into shinola, using their  Holstein herd’s processed manure to power their entire plant and up to 120 houses in the surrounding neighborhood.

“These guys are amazing and deserve this special award and it is bestowed on The Crave Brothers with pride,” Mr. Gray enthusiastically exclaims.


Spaulding Gray was a stray, gray striped tomcat who adopted The Lady and The Man when they lived in Southern California before migrating to the Pacific Northwest. Mr. Gray reviews the cheeses The Lady sells, observes humankinds and generally acts obnoxious whenever he wishes.