September 3, 2011
(By clicking on the above picture, you will be able to view a slideshow of the entire trip.)
The winners were chosen based on their sales of Rogue Blue Cheeses at their kiosks and their merchandising abilities.
The trip began with a five-course dinner with Rogue Creamery Owners, David Gremmels and Cary Bryant, who graciously welcomed the group to their hillside home. Each course featured a different Rogue Cheese with Cary preparing several of the dishes including a wonderful, savory creme brulee that started the meal. The cheese course included the latest Rogue creation, Flora Nelle, a marvelous blue named after Cary and David’s Grandmothers. (The Lady brought home a wedge and we will be reviewing it soon…)
After an overnight stay at the Wine Country Inn in Jacksonville, Oregon, the Fred Meyer mongers traveled to Central Point and the cheesemaking facility of Award-Winning Rogue cheeses, including the 2011 Best of Show at the American Cheese Society Competition, Rogue River Blue. There, Cary, David and head cheesemakers, Craig and Jason, worked with the winners to make two vats of cheese: Tou Velle and Oregon Blue. After aging, these cheeses will be sold exclusively at Fred Meyer Cheese Kiosks in early 2012. The Fred Meyer group learned they were the first group invited to make cheese at the Creamery – what an honor!!!
Shawn, a member of the Rogue family, led the group trough a Rogue Cheese Plate, a sack lunch was enjoyed and then the group headed out to tour the two sustainable dairy farms that provide the milk to Rogue Creamery.
Rogue Creamery is a leader in sustainable farming and cheesemaking, having been certified by Food Alliance, Oregon’s Tilth and Steritech. The guys shared with The Lady their choice of “sustainable” over “organic” (although they do make a couple of organic cheeses). Simply put, sustainable farming treats animals more humane than organic. With organic dairy farming, if an animal becomes sick, it is destroyed. Sustainable dairy farming allows treatment of the animal, pulling it from production until all antibiotics are out of the milk. As Cary said, “When I get sick, I take medicine; the doctor doesn’t put me down.” As an animal of the feline persuasion, all I can say is, “Whee… thank goodness for sustainability around the manse.”
They encourage recycling and energy conservation both at the Creamery and home. The Creamery is powered 100% in the summer by solar panels (which also provide about 30% during the winter); they recycle everything that can be recycled. If an employee rides a bike to work 45 times in a year, Rogue gives them a top-of-the-line bike. They pay bonuses for carpooling, biking and using public transportation. It’s amazing and it’s beyond admirable…
After touring the dairies, it was time to play and the group headed to Grants’ Pass and a four-hour dinner tour up the Rogue River on Hellgate Excursions‘ jet boats. Eighteen miles up the river, they stopped for a BBQ dinner at the OK Corral. Both up and down the river, the boat pilots treated the group to maneuvers that resulted in lots of wet clothes and gleeful screaming. They saw many osprey and two eagles on the adventure.
The next morning The Ladies stopped at the Rogue Gift Shop and loaded up on cheese, wines and cheese pairings and headed back to reality…
The Lady asked that I make sure everyone at Rogue Creamery understands how special this opportunity was… so here’s a shout out to: David, cary, Sonja, Mimi, Chelsea, Meredith, Craig, Francis, Jason, Tom, Sue, Lacey, Shawn, Delmer, Holly, Huck, Andy, Gabe and Marcela, Brandon, MacKenzie and baby Mason… and the cheesemakers whose names she failed to get… it is a time that will not be forgotten…
Now for a final note… I’d like to bring it to each of my faithful reader’s attention that one more time, The Lady was hanging out with The Cheese Swells and I was left back at the manse with The Man… I have got to have a long conversation with The Brain about the balance of power around here… I’m in charge… although with The Lady off galavanting you’d never know it… and the biggest galavant to date is just 10 days away… The Lady leaves on the 13th to attend the Slow Food Cheese Festival in Bra, Italy and work as a monger at the American Cheese Booth with Cheese Swells from Rogue Creamery, Cow Girl Creamery, Vermont Butter Creamery, Jasper Hills Farm, Uplands Cheese Company, Cypress Grove, Kroger, Murray’s Cheese and AFI… there just is no justice…
Songs of passion. . .French cabaret music, klezmer, tangos, Latin and original music.
Updated June 12, 2011Follow @cheesemonger
The Lady was there; I wish I had been there… it was a perfect day at the cheese kiosk. The Lady thanks Padam, Padam for performing and making a special day even more special!!!
How cool!! Portland’s own musical group, Padam, Padam, will perform a mini-concert from 2pm-3pm tomorrow, June 11th at Fred Meyer’s Hawthorne Store, the only Leed’s Certified Silver Grocery Store in Oregon. It’s all part of the specialty cheese kiosk’s “Locavore/Local” theme as the cheesemongers salute more than two dozen cheeses from local cheesemakers in Oregon and Washington State. They also are featuring other local fare that pairs well with the local cheeses, including Beer, Wine, Tea, Jams and Mustards.
There will be cheese samples as well… stop in and hear some great music and take home some local cheese.
The Lady will be there and if I can sneak in (another “No Pets Allowed” food joint… what’s up with that???), so will I, your not-so-humble Feline Foodie!!!
June 5, 2011
The lady’s kiosk now carries three of the award-winning farmstead cheeses from Tumalo Farms. One, Classico, we have reviewed in the past. The other two were new to us and have happily joined the group of goat cheeses that The Lady, The Man and I like.
To re-cap the rise to cheese fame, Tumalo Farms Owner and Cheesemaker, Flavio DeCastilhos, left the Silicon Valley fast lane and moved his family to Bend, Oregon where he and his wife built a state-of-the-art cheese making facility and began making goat gouda-style cheeses and winning awards within the first three years.
In 2009, Tumalo Farms Classico finished second in its class at the U.S. Cheese Championship Contest, stunning many in the cheese world… I could comment here… but let me just say to those stunned… get over it… this man makes cheese that deserves to win awards.
In addition to Classico, The Lady’s kiosk now carries Tumalo Farms Pondhopper and Fenacho Goat Goudas.
Fenacho has a pale yellow paste peppered with exotic fenugreek seeds which give this cheese a nutty, sweet flavor with a butterscotch finish. While some might consider this a dessert cheese, your not-so-humble Feline Foodie (that would be moi) thinks it might all be gone if you lag behind thinking you should wait for dessert.
I give Fenacho 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).
Serving Suggestions: On a cheese plate, you’ll have the crowd begging for more. As a dessert cheese, you’ll be lucky to have any left by the time the entrée plates are removed…
Wine Pairing: 2008 Reserve “La Creole” Eola Hills Pinot Noir
Beer Pairing: Deschutes Brewery’s Inversion IPA
Awards: 1st Place – American Cheese Society – 2007; 2nd Place – American Cheese Society – 2009; 2nd Place – US Championship – 2007
Source: Pasteurized Tumalo Farms Farmstead Goat Milk
The third cheese on the plate was Tumalo Farms Pondhopper. This semi-hard cheese was the sharpest and most goat-like of the three. It is spiced with a local beer and while I can’t swear as to which one, my money is on the beer pairing below… We found the tang of both the goat and the beer to blend well and you can bet this cheese will appear at the manse again… to The Lady, that’s a hint…
I give Tumalo Farms’ Pondhopper 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).
Serving Suggestions: Pairing this cheese with cured meats is a slam dunk. The Lady brought home some of the Italian meats from Boar’s Head and even I swooned… normally leaving that task to The Man…
Wine Pairing: Pinot Gris
Beer Pairing: Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale
Awards: 1st Place – American Cheese Society – 2006; 2nd Place – American Cheese Society – 2009; 3rd Place – American Cheese Society – 2008
Source: 100% Pasteurized Farmstead Goat Milk
The Lady, The Man and I enjoyed these three cheeses on a cheese plate with a couple of jams and while The Man was busy swooning, I was busy snagging an extra portion, thanks to The Lady… gotta love her…
March 31, 2011
The island of Pag off the coast of Croatia is home to a special artisan cheese, Paski Sir. Paski Sir is gaining worldwide recognition quickly as it amasses award-after-award. In 2010, it won the prestigious Barber Award and was named the World’s Best New Cheese at the World Cheese Awards. That’s one hefty accolade.
Through this blog, The Lady and I met Simon Kerr, the indefatigable Marketing and Export Director for Gligora Dairy where Paski Sir is produced (Simon is also a Master when it comes to understanding social media). He graciously offered to send a sample our way and we were thrilled. After sampling it, we felt we had been granted membership in an exclusive club… those lucky enough to taste this exquisite sheeps’ milk cheese.
Before reviewing let me share more about Pag and the production of Paski Sir.
The Lady was in Croatia in 1978 when it was still Yugoslavia and Tito was alive and kicking. She didn’t get to Pag but the week she spent in Yugoslavia is one of her fondest memories. She loved every minute she spent there; the people were friendly; the countryside is beautiful; the cities old and stately. Her favorite was the Croatian walled city of Dubrovnik. She worked in the airline industry at that time and was invited to sit in the cockpit while landing in Dubrovnik; ahh, the good ole days of aviation… but I digress…
The Island of Pag is off the coast of Croatia in the Adriatic Sea and enjoys a perfect climate for cheesemaking. Its eastern landscape lies beneath the mainland Velebit mountain range which creates the Pag Bora, a strong, cool and dry wind that comes off the mountains. When it reaches the sea, it creates millions of tiny sea droplets that the Bora dries and turns the droplets into salt dust. Then the Bora deposits the salt dust on the vegetation of the island. It is here that the Paska Ovca Sheep grazes on the vegetation, their favorite being the Pag Sage growing on the rocky landscape. The aromatic sage is quite prominent in both the scent and taste of this cheese. Paski Sir is a perfect example of terroir and cheese.
Paski Sir has been produced on Pag since the 7th Century during Roman occupation and today there are several dairies producing this cheese (and many other award-winning cheeses as well). Currently the main producers of Paski Sir have formed a Cheese Association with the intention of obtaining Protected Designation of Origin for Paski Sir to impose strict condition for production. It would also ensure that Paski Sir remains a product of Pag.
In 2008, 2009 and 2010, Gligora Sirana Dairy won the coveted 3 star Superior taste Award from the International Taste and Quality Institute for Paski Sir.
The Lady, The Man and I enjoyed a wedge of this cheese one evening and although it started out as the appetizer; it quickly became dinner. The cheese was so satisfying we were unable to just taste one or two bites and the three us finished the entire wedge. I suppose we should be embarrassed but we’re not in the least.
The piece we had was aged about one year and the color of light caramel. It has a dense paste with some small eyes, similar in appearance to a Manchego. When The Lady sliced the wedge, a floral aroma filled the air and promised more to come. The first taste is light but quickly develops into a strong, piquant finish. A finish that lingers and grows as you enjoy yet another slice. It crumbles and melts and leaves you begging for more. The taste is unique and because this cheese is thermalized rather than pasteurized, most of the floral of the sage plant is still delightfully present which adds to the enjoyment of this cheese. As a point of reference because this cheese is not yet widely-known in the US, this cheese is moister than Manchego and not as salty as a Pecorino but has similarities to both.
The Lady and I decided after enjoying this cheese, we are firmly moving into the category of lovers of sheep milk cheeses. Like the Sally Jackson cheese The Lady tasted at the 2010 ACS Conference, the taste remains in your mind and you can almost taste it again with only thinking of it.
Sadly, Paski Sir is not currently available for sale in the United States but Simon told The Lady it should be available via wholesale through Grand Prix Trading of New York by mid-May, 2011. For further information regarding Paski Sir, please contact Simon via his Paski Sir Blog. Paski Sir also has a Facebook page you can “Like” and they Tweet as @PaskiSir. As I said earlier, Simon knows his way around the internet. His series “From Ewe to You” is informative and follows the entire production of Paski Sir from the Ewe to your table. You can win a wheel of Paski Sir – the details are on the blog.
Serving suggestion: Slice in triangles, leave the rind intact and serve this cheese naked to fully enjoy its flavor and taste. The Lady served the Paski Sir with a trio of Vintner’s Kitchen jams: Marionberry Jam with Port, Confetti Pepper Jelly and Strawberry and Pinot Noir Jam and VK’s Honeyed Wine Mustard with Garlic. She also had a peppered salumi on the plate and freshly baked French Bread.
Wine Pairing: The Lady enjoyed a glass of 14 Hands Merlot with this cheese although she suggests a Riesling would also pair well with Paski Sir.
Beer Pairing: North Coast Old Stock Ale . The Earthy sweetness pairs well with the salty tang of the Paski Sir.
Trivia: Pag lacework, also made on the island and used in the background of the Paski Sir label, was inscribed in the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.
FTC Full Disclosure – The cheesemaker/manufacturer sent me their product, hoping I would review the product/cheese.
March 4, 2011
The Lady and I agree that most reduced-fat cheeses also suffer from reduced taste; but not BeemsterLite. You’d never know it has 50% less fat than a regular Gouda… seriously this is a very tasty cheese.
The Lady brought a wedge home and I had to fight The Man paw-to-paw and if it weren’t for that opposable thumb “edge” I would have gotten more than a half share.
This cheese is nutty and sweet with a hint of the floral. Aged five months, BeemsterLite is a perfect cheese for those interested in taking a bit of fat out of their diet without any loss of flavor and enjoyment. The Lady served this tasty Gouda with a schmear of Vintner’s Kitchen’s Marionberry and Port Jam… as you might expect, it was yummy; The Man swooned.
This cheese has 90 calories per ounce as opposed to 120-130 in fattier cheeses. 50 of those calories are “fat calories”.
On a personal note, I imagine it is fun to live in the Beemster Polder; a place I have requested for my next assignment in the event The Brain re-deploys me in a future life. I hear that the Mighty Mike Tyson and Honorable Hemingway are frolicking there now and enjoying every day hanging out with the blue cows and chasing the blue mice…
Serving Suggestions: On a cheese board, you can “wow” your guests. This cheese would be great in a fondue and also make a lower caloric grilled cheese sandwich. It’s a versatile cheese… you can do most anything with it and it’ll be a hit!!
Wine Pairing: The Lady loves her reds and went with 14 Hands Hot to Trot.
Beer Pairing: The Man chose Thomas Hooker Munich Style Golden Lager.
Source: Those blue contented cows that frolic in the Beemster Polder.
February 4, 2011
At the cheese and wine tasting event with our friend, Waldemar Albrecht, The Lady received a couple wedges of President Comte which she brought home for moi, your not-so-humble Feline Foodie to taste and review. Our first tasting was in the 3-cheese Mac n Cheese she made using the Comte along with Bellwether Farms Carmody and Kirkland Signature Cave-Aged Vermont Cheddar. The combination of the three cheeses created what The Man declared “The Best Mac n Cheese I have ever tasted” as he swooned out-of-control. He does that a lot; he and I are both eternally grateful that The Lady enjoys cooking for us. I would also like to thank the Cooking Channel, sister network of the Food Network, for inspiring The Lady… God Bless Cable… but I digress…
Last night, as the evening hors d’oeuvre, The Lady brought out a wedge of the President Comte with Vintner’s Kitchen Strawberry and Pinot Noir Jam and toasted Georgia Pecans (sent to us by Miss Anne and The Tall Guy). The Lady has her “everyday cheeses” which she always keeps around the manse. She has added Comte to the “must-carry” cheeses in my cheese fridge… yes I have my very own “Cheese Fridge”… The Lady thinks it’s her cheese fridge… ignorance truly is bliss…
Comte became an AOC-protected cheese in 1958 with complete regulations established in 1973. The following are the regulations that control the production of Comte (sometimes called Gruyere de Comte):
The AOC regulations state (from wikipedia.com🙂
- Only milk from Montbeliarde Cattle is permitted, and each must have at least a hectare of grazing.
- Fertilization is limited, and cows may only be fed fresh, natural feed, with no silage.
- The milk must be transported to the site of production immediately after milking.
- Renneting must be carried out within a stipulated time after milking, according to the storage temperature of the cheese.
- Only one heating of the milk may occur, and that must be during renneting. It may be heated to no more than 40˚C.
- Salt may only be applied directly to the surface of the cheese.
- A casein label containing the date of production must be attached to the side of the cheese, and maturing must continue for at least four months.
- No grated cheese may be sold under the Comté name.
As mentioned, this is an everyday cheese around the manse and for good reason. This cheese is quite versatile. It can be the centerpiece of any respectable cheese plate and then go directly into cooking mode. Around the manse, we use it in both capacities.
This cheese is nutty and sweet; it is a bit milder than Gruyere and lacks the slight “metallic” after taste of Gruyere (the metallic after taste should NOT be interpreted as bad; it’s not; it’s simply a characteristic of that cheese). The paste is a deep ivory color and melts on the palate, leaving you craving for more. When you pair this cheese with a jam, such as the Vintner’s Kitchen Strawberry and Pinot Noir Jam mentioned above, the combination of sweet and savory is out-of-this-world (one of the reasons I love living in this world as opposed to the Mother Ship).
It’s a slam dunk here at the manse: The Lady, The Man and I all love President Comte… although, as we all know, it’s only my opinion that really counts…
Serving Suggestions: I’ve actually covered this but a few more specifics: perfect on a cheese plate; perfect in a mac n cheese; perfect in au gratins; perfect with jams, mustards, olives and nuts… it’s pretty much perfect no matter how you serve it.
Wine Pairing: This cheese can be paired with many different wines: Sancerre, Merlot, a bold Cabernet Sauvignon and even champagne. As is to be expected, The Lady prefers 14 Hands Merlot… surprise…
Beer Pairing: A dunkel or a porter are nice pairings for this cheese.
Source: Raw milk from the Montbeliarde Cow.
Bit of trivia: There is a long-standing rivalry between Comte and Gruyere as to which is better…
(Stay Tuned: we are only 4 posts and pages away from our 500th post here (doesn’t include our sister recipe blog, cheesemonger recipes). We have big plans for 500!!)
January 22, 2011
Thursday was National Cheese Lovers’ Day and The Lady Left Me at Home to Attend a Cheese Tasting with Waldemar Albrecht…Sheesh…
A belated Happy National Cheese Lovers’ Day to my fellow cheese lovers… aka… turophiles…
Let me ask you, my loyal readers, Is there any feline or humankind (for that matter) who loves cheese more than moi? Rhetorical, of course…
And yet, here I sat, Thursday, doing all the heavy lifting while The Lady was out, once again, rubbing elbows with a bunch of Cheese Swells… it’s just wrong…
The Lady claims that The Tualatin Country Club is another one of those “Restricted” places that allows no pets… what’s up with that… almost every manse in America is home to a pet, usually of the feline and/or inferior canine persuasion, but most public places where humankinds hang, won’t let a pet even peek through the door much less enter and mingle… it’s time for my fellow felines and canines to drop our differences; rise up; unite and protest this rampant discrimination…
But I digress… The Lady and her cheese friend, Cheryl, carpooled to enjoy cheese tastings with renowned Cheesemonger, Waldemar Albrecht, at the gentile Tualatin “No Pets” Country Club. Waldemar recently served several years as Head Fromager (Cheesemonger Extraordinaire) at Artisanal Bistro. Today he puts together cheese and wine adventures all over the world and shares his knowledge and passion for cheese, wine and beer with other enthusiasts and professionals.
As for the tasting The Lady attended… I am soooo jealous…
In addition to several of The Lady’s fellow Cheesemongers, my friend, Naomi from Lactalis was there and sporting new, sassy glasses. The Lady met Sharee, also from Lactalis and they chatted about cheese, France and blogging. I trust (yea, right) The Lady explained to Sharee that I, your humble Feline Foodie, am the power behind the cheese throne and that The Lady is strictly a figurehead and spell checker…
David, Marcia and Kym from Willis Marketing helped put the event together with Lactalis and the folks at DPI…yep, the same DPI that banned my blog … Russ, Anna, Sarah, Debbie and Doug were all there as well… it was a gathering of the best of the Portland Cheese Swells… and I was left at home… again… but I’m not bitter.
The reason all these Cheese Swells gathered was to meet Waldemar and enjoy a journey through a tasting of the Mercedes Benz of Lactalis French Cheeses.
Waldemar began by sharing his knowledge of the basics of cheese: history and origin of cheese; types of milk used to make cheese; the basic styles of cheese and a few personal anecdotes. Then he took the group through a tasting of the cheeses and paired them with three wines and one beer.
The first cheese on the plate was St. Maure, s soft-ripening goat cheese log that ripens from the outside inward creating a creamy rim surrounding a lovely paste. The goat tang is there without over-powering and has none of that bucky aftertaste that The Lady and I too often find in goat cheese, such as the dreadful hard goat cheddar that is definitely banned around the manse. The St. Maure paired well with the Hess Sauvignon Blanc wine.
Following the goat cheese, Waldemar introduced the group to Le Chatelain Camembert, another winner from the Lactalis family. This cheese is made in Normandy where Marie Harel first created camembert in the late 18th Century. This cheese is aromatic, which might scare the novice, but don’t let that stop you, this cheese is rich and creamy. Because it is “gently” pasteurized, it retains most of the authentic flavors you find in the raw-milk version you can only buy in France. This cheese paired well with the Adelsheim Pinot Noir.
Next on the plate was the “Sister” of the Camembert: Le Chatelain Brie. This cheese is a notch up from the Brie that most Americans know; it has a kick like the Camembert just sampled by the Swells. As they tasted this wonderful, stronger Brie, Waldemar explained that there is little difference between brie and camembert. The basic difference is size: Camembert comes in the 250 ml. size (approximately 8 ounces in the US) and Brie is produced in the 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) and 3 kilogram (6.6 pounds) sizes. The Le Chatelain Brie had aftertastes of broccoli and cauliflower… and The Lady loved it. It’s Brie… what’s not to love. It paired well with the Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon.
The next cheese was a favorite around the manse, P’tit Basque from the Pyrenees region of France. This half kilogram barrel which is wrapped in wax is a creamy semi-soft sheeps’ milk cheese that is made by Istara. The Lady felt it went best with the Rogue Chocolate Stout. This cheese is creamy, melts on the palate and leaves you begging for more.
Following the P’tit Basque, a French Cheddar – Cantalet – was tasted… I know, the French claim they don’t make Cheddars but this cheese is actually the grand-daddy of cheddars and was made in France before the cheesemakers landed in England. This cheese is made using the cheddaring process and that pretty much makes it a cheddar. The Lady and I love this cheese and it’s a very popular cheese at The Kiosk as well. The creamy, yellow paste of this cheese is a beauty and it’s mild and a great “kid-Friendly” cheese as well. The Lady thought this cheese paired well with the Adelsheim Pinot Noir.
After the Cantalet, another favorite at the manse, Comte, was tasted. This is probably the most favorite of all the alpine-style cheeses and The Man and I are always grateful when The Lady brings a wedge home for us to taste and enjoy. The Lady also likes to cook with this cheese. Comte is a washed rind; pressed cheese that universally pleases cheese lovers. Creamy, mild with just a bit of an after bite, Comte should be one of those cheeses you always have available in your cheese drawer.
The last cheese was also the first French cheese to obtain the coveted French PDO protection: Roquefort, the King of blue cheeses. Made with sheeps’ milk and moldy rye bread, Roquefort is aged in limestone caves and follows the strictest of rules throughout production. The version tasted was the Abbaye Roquefort, the Societe version sold to the US market. This cheese is medium in intensity and appeals to most cheese lovers in here. There is a milder version sold in France and there is also the Fleurine Roquefort, a super-strong version, sold almost exclusively in the region where Roquefort is made. The Roquefort was an ideal match with the Chocolate Stout.
The Lady gives the Lactalis French Cheese Plate 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).
She asked me to thank the Swells from Lactalis, Willis Marketing and DPI for putting this fabulous evening together. She also was thrilled to meet and chat with Waldemar and thanks him for taking time from his busy schedule to spend time with the group.