Raw Milk Cheese

Vegetarian-Suitable Cheese

The Lady brought home another winner from Cary Bryant and David Gremmels and all the great folks who make Rogue Creamery cheeses.

Caveman Blue is a result of painstaking cheesemaking by David and Cary that began in 2002 soon after buying the creamery from the cheesemaker legend, Ig Vella. The guys wanted to distinguish themselves and Caveman was to be the cheese to represent the “new generation” at Rogue. However, they had some problems with consistency and while they labored to perfect this cheese, they became famous with other winners such as Rogue River Blue and Echo Mountain Blue. They also expanded their line to include non-blue cheese favorites as well such as Tou Velle and Lavender Cheddar.

All of the blues at Rogue Creamery use different strains of Penicillium roqueforti for bluing and the cheesemakers realized that the strain Caveman used needed its own temperature and humidity in order to develop the natural rind wanted. This rind also sets Caveman apart from the other Rogue Creamery blues. They built a separate facility for aging Caveman and success soon followed.

Caveman has the density of fudge and butter with crystals. It has fruity overtones and I got a whiff of bacon. This cheese is moderate in blue boldness and only slightly salty. There is a nuttiness that is quite pleasant and satisfying with a bit of vanilla at the end.

We enjoyed this cheese after dinner as dessert with slices of Bartlett pear. It was the perfect ending to the meal.

I give Caveman Blue 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestion: This cheese should be savored and that’s just how The Lady served it – as dessert.

Wine Pairing: The Lady chose Sineann’s Old Vine Zinfandel from Yamhill County, Oregon. The Lady prefers to pair her cheeses with local wines whenever possible.

Beer Pairing: The Man chose Oregon Trail Brewery’s Bourbon Barrel Porter. He felt its vanilla notes went well with Caveman.

Bit of trivia: Since 1971, an imposing statue of a caveman has guarded the entrance to Grant’s Pass in Southern Oregon. He was erected by the city’s Caveman Club and stands 17 feet tall. The purpose was to promote the nearby caverns at Cave Junction. On July 4, 2004, the fiberglass statue was ignited and heavily damaged. Teens were the suspected vandals. By July 2005, the statue had been repaired and returned to its pedestal where he still stands proudly today.

Boxing Cheddar From Australia

November 28, 2010

As most of you already know, The Lady and I have never met a cheddar we didn’t like and in most cases, didn’t love… Boxing Cheddar from Australia is no exception to the “love” column. And at $7.99 a pound, retail, it’s also a great bargain for the cheddar lovers of the Pacific Northwest. (The Lady saw it last year at Costco for about half that price… she should have bought it… shoulda, coulda, woulda… or as our friend Nancy, married to The Man’s BFF, Gary, likes to say… “it’s a sorry if…” you’ll be sorry if you don’t buy it when you see it at Costco…)

Anyway, forgive the digression there…

Boxing Cheddar, complete with a Kangaroo on the packaging, is imported by DPI, the same folks who ban access to this very blog. I have been unable to discover who produces this “tasty” cheddar and if any of my loyal readers have a clue, please share…

Boxing Cheddar is aged three years and is nutty and tangy with a nice bite that lingers after the cheese is gone. We had it on a cheese plate with other cheeses The Lady procured while out spying on the competition. I love that The Lady has no qualms about buying new cheeses from her competitors… but only cheeses she doesn’t carry in her own cheesemines…

I give Boxing Cheddar 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got…).

Serving Suggestions: On a cheese plate for snacking and in cooking, especially au gratins and the ever ubiquitous mac n cheese.

Wine Pairing: 14 Hands has a new red sold retail, Hot to Trot, and it is becoming a favorite around the manse. This is a red blend and it’s fruity and smooth… a very nice wine…

Beer Pairing: James Squire Brewhouse Australian Brown Ale

Source: Pasteurized Cow Milk

La Mariposa’s Chubut

November 5, 2010

Not all cheesemakers are created equal… according to The Lady, Mariano Battro, the Oregon cheesemaker (an Argentine who met his wife while she was an exchange student in South America) is a “real hunk”… The Man just rolled his eyes and wished The Lady “good luck”… These two are starting to sound like an old-married couple… oh that’s right… they are an old-married couple…

Back in the 1800’s some Welsh immigrants headed across the Atlantic and settled into the Patagonia Province of Chubut and began making cheese which they named after their new home. Fast forward in time and Mariano’s father became a cheesemaker in the same area and his son, who followed his love to her home of Oregon, continues that tradition. According to Mariano, the art of making Chubut has died away leaving only his father and himself making this cheese.

For The Lady and your favorite Feline Foodie (that would be me) having Chubut made in the near neighborhood is a good thing… Mariano began making cheese at Fraga Farms before obtaining his own license.

Chubut is a mild and buttery cheese with a tart aftertaste. This is what the Lady likes to call a “Kid-Friendly” cheese; a nice artisan cheese that introduces kids to the finer side of cheese. It has a lovely mellow yellow paste and a softer but firm texture.

I give Chubut 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). The Lady gives Mariano a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10… but I digress on her behalf…

Serving Suggestions: This would be a plus for any cheese plate and shows off the best of Oregon.

Wine Pairing: Oregon’s Adelsheim 2007 Chardonnay – not too oaky.

Beer Pairing: Oregon’s Fire Mountain Brew House Pale Ale

Awards: No doubt, coming soon…

Kurtwood Farms’ Dinah

October 3, 2010

One of the seminars The Lady attended at the 2010 ACS Cheese-a-topia featured cheeses from the Pacific Northwest and cheesemakers and cheese hounds who specialize in the same. Tami Parr, of the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project and author of Artisan Cheeses of the Pacific Northwest, served as moderator. Four cheeses were tasted: WSU’s Cougar Gold, Willamette Valley Cheese Company’s Boerenkaas, Sally Jackson’s Raw Sheep Milk (all of which I have reviewed in the past) and Kurtwood Farms’ Dinah. Notes on the entire seminar will be uploaded here in the next few weeks.

Kurt Timmermeister, the owner of Kurtwood Farms and the cheesemaker who created Dinah spoke on the panel and told us how he came to be a cheesemaker and dairy farmer. He studied in Paris, looking forward to a life in Foreign Service; but Paris brought out his love of food and restaurants. When he graduated, he returned to Seattle and began a career in food service. A series of jobs in kitchens and dining room led to him opening his own café at the age of twenty-four. For the next two decades he opened a series of even larger cafes while exploring small-scale farming.

In 1991 he bought four acres on Vashon Island; land that became Kurtwood Farms. He cleaned the land off and planted fruit and nut trees. Over time, Kurt bought more land and built a pasture and added sheep, pigs and cows. By 2003, he left the restaurant business and Kurtwood Farms became his full-time job.

He built a professional kitchen to process the food grown on the farm to prepare dinners of greater quality for friends to gather. After acquiring a Grade A Dairy license, Kurt began to milk his small Jersey herd. That led to building an underground cheese cave and began producing Dinah, a fresh, bloomy rind farmstead cheese.

He makes 300 8 ounce rounds of Dinah a week and after thirty days of aging, he delivers the cheese himself, in his pick-up to a select number of restaurants and cheese shops in the Seattle area. His two dogs ride along with Kurt to keep him company.

Kurt is also making a second cheese, Francesca, which is an eight pound round of aged Grana Padano-style hard cheese which he hopes to have on the market by the fall of 2011.

One obstacle he encountered was finding equipment to fit his “smaller” operation. No company in the US made a vat in the forty-gallon size and he ended up buying equipment from Slovenia and Netherlands.

Dinah was his first Jersey cow, who has since passed, and today his herd consists of eleven and he milks three or four regularly.

Dinah, the Camembert-style cheese is made using slow-pasteurized milk, in hopes of keeping the milk’s character and fatty tones. It is hand ladled into molds and after thirty days is “ready for its close-ups” in Seattle.

For someone who professes to not really know what he is doing, Kurt delivers a superior cheese that captured the heart of The Lady. She said you can taste the Jersey but not the barn. It oozes and literally melts in your mouth. It is buttery and splendidly delicious. Sometimes the bloomy rind can be a bit on the mushroomy side; not this one; it’s more like eating a cloud.

The Lady gives Dinah 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got to lend her). She gives Kurt only the best; she greatly admires those who fly by the seat of their pants and aren’t afraid to try something new…

Serving Suggestions: Schmear a wedge of this on a warm baguette and enjoy.

Wine Pairing: Using the theory of pairing wine and cheese from the same region, The Lady suggest Vashon Winery’s Semillon.

Beer Pairing: Iron Horse Brewery’s Malt Bomb Brown Ale

Source: Slow-Pasteurized Jersey Cow Milk

Flagship Goes Raw

October 2, 2010

Made with Raw Milk

Vegetarian-Suitable

Last month when The Lady was at Beecher’s Handmade Cheeses assisting (think: doing stuff that can’t mess up the cheese) in making a batch of Flagship, she was also busy tasting some of their cheeses she had never enjoyed previously. The Flagsheep and Four-Year Flagship she brought home and shared with her favorite Feline Foodie (that would be me). However, there were two she didn’t bring home and although I love her dearly, I’d like to remind The Lady that I hold a grudge and I hold it for a long time… you have been advised…

The two she didn’t bring home were both made using raw milk: Flagship and Flagship Reserve, as you know, the pasteurized versions of these two excellent cheddars are favorites around the manse and often used in our favorite mac n cheese.

The Raw Milk Flagship has all of the characteristics of the pasteurized version: nutty, sweet and full-flavored; with the added earthiness that you get when using raw milk. I imagine this one changes with the season as the cows’ diet changes. For raw milk enthusiasts, you really own it to yourself to buy a triangle wedge and sit back and enjoy. For those who prefer the consistency that comes with pasteurized milk, you’ll still love this cheese… hello… it’s Beecher’s… it can’t be bad… that isn’t going to happen… just saying…

Because I didn’t have the honor of tasting this cheese, under protest, I loan my Paws to The Lady who…gives Raw Flagship 3 out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got to loan, under protest).

Serving Suggestions: On a platter with pears, apples, nuts and jams; a perfect cheese for grilled sandwiches and as the primary cheese in the World’s Best Mac n Cheese.

Wine Pairing: 2007 Januik Cabernet Sauvignon

Beer Pairing: Seattle’s Georgetown Brewing Company’s American Pale Ale

Source: Raw Cow Milk

Raw Milk Flagship Reserve

The Lady actually enjoyed tasting this cheese twice the week of the 2010 ACS Conference; the first time was at Beecher’s at Pike Place and the last day of the conference she attended a seminar that explored the complexities of clothbound cheddars. One of the nine cheeses they tasted and discussed was the Raw Milk version of Flagship Reserve.

Once again, as I didn’t personally taste this cheese I can only tell you once more how wonderful the pasteurized version is. We actually had it earlier this week on a cheese plate with bell peppers and Vintner’s Kitchen Strawberry and Pinot Noir Jam. (What The Lady doesn’t know that I know is there is a small cube of this cheese in the fridge that she brought home for The Man to try when she re-creates the Clothbound Cheddar Seminar… The Man has promised to share… that’s why he’s The Man…) Clothbound Cheddars already have an earthy taste and according to The Lady, she picked the raw milk version of Flagship Reserve when tasted beside the pasteurized version – the differences were subtle but they were there: a little earthier; a little more complex; a little more depth.

The Lady loves this cheese and… sheesh… again she borrows my paws to give the Raw Milk Flagship Reserve 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got to share with her…)

Serving Suggestion: A cheese this special should be served in simple ways; it needs no extra fanfare; it brings its own band… on a platter with fruits, nuts and jams… how can you go wrong?

Wine Pairing: The Lady thought a change of pace would be Covey Run Dry Riesling; the honey and peach of the wine would complement the butter and nutty flavors of the cheese.

Beer Pairing: Seattle’s Red Hook’s Big Ballard Imperial IPA

Source: Raw Cow Milk

Rogue Blue Crumbles

September 16, 2010

I freely admit that I digress more than I should… at least that’s what The Lady tells me… a lot… but it’s my blog and I ascribe to the theory that digression adds spice… even though for me cheese is the most fascinating of foods and ranks right up there with napping and chasing other feline interlopers off the property.

My favorite days around the manse are when The Lady is home from the cheese mines. The sweet, smoky smell of New Mexico Hatch Chile Peppers fills the air this morning as The Lady roasts them over the gas flames of the stove. I suspect a mac n cheese with a couple of the peppers is on the menu today and you can bet she has other meals planned that will cause The Man to swoon… he does that a lot… and me to love her all the more.

The only downside to these days is that I have to share her with The Man. Despite my best efforts, The Lady refuses to discuss any possibility that she and I could go it on our own. After thirty years with The Man, he is solidly entrenched and to quote The Lady, “Young man, you were late to the party; The Man has seniority. Get over it.” Sheesh… humankinds and their loyalty to each other…

Her days off always include a new cheese from a cheese mine somewhere in the world… and this is where my digression ends…

David Gremmels and Cary Bryant, the Cheese Swells who run Oregon’s Award-Winning Rogue Creamery, have teamed with Fred Meyer to create a blue cheese crumble blend exclusive to the Fred Meyer  Specialty Cheese Kiosks ( there are 27 Fred Meyer Specialty Cheese Kiosks in Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Idaho*).

The Lady likes to shop at the Fred Meyer at 39th and Hawthorne in southeast Portland, Oregon. The store has one of the specialty cheese kiosks and The Lady often finds cheeses there that she brings home for your favorite Feline Foodie (that would be me) to taste and review.

Last night she arrived with a container of this new, Fred Meyer exclusive blue cheese blend and treated The Man and me to a freshly baked whole grain baguette schmeared with it. After The Man stopped swooning, he declared it, “One of the best blue cheeses I have ever tasted.” (In the spirit of full disclosure note that there is not one blue cheese The Man has tasted that he didn’t like and usually when The Man and blue cheese interact, there is some swooning involved…)

However, that doesn’t mean he was not speaking the truth…

This unique blend is a combination of Oregon Blue, Oregonzola and Crater Lake Blue; all award-winning cheeses from Rogue Creamery located in Central Point, Oregon in the beautiful Rogue River Valley. This blend is made from organic raw cow’s milk, certified by Food Alliance, and handmade using sustainable practices.

And it’s tasty. It has a nice robust flavor without being overpowering. It is silky on the palate and looks gorgeous sitting atop the baguette.

The Lady, being the wise woman that she is, divided the container and only allowed The Man and me to enjoy half of it with the bread as an appetizer. No doubt it would have disappeared quickly otherwise.

After our cheese plate, she delighted us with a lettuce wedge topped with The Man’s homegrown tomatoes, Hempler ‘s Peppered Bacon crumbles (bought at the Hawthorne Fred Meyer meat counter which The Lady also frequents and I have reviewed here) with a dressing made using the other half of The Rogue Blue Crumbles. Knowing me well, The Lady made my “salad” simply with bacon crumbles and the dressing.

Had I been consulted I would have named this My Rogue Blue Cheese Heaven Crumbles… but what do I know? I’m just a cat with a somewhat sophisticated palate…

I give The Rogue Blue Crumbles 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: Well, how about serving it with a baguette or use it on that special salad. You could really kick the heck out of everyday mac n cheese with this blue blend.

Wine Pairing: A nice Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley is the perfect pairing for this cheese. The Lady chose a bottle from Newburg, Oregon’s Award-Winning Adelsheim Vineyards.

Beer Pairing: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, a Barleywine style ale.

Source: Raw Cow’s Milk

And remember, you can only buy this is 27 places and they are all in the Pacific Northwest…

  • The 27 Fred Meyer Specialty Cheese Kiosks are located at select Fred Meyer stores in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area; Bend, Oregon; Vancouver, Washington; Seattle and Tacoma Washington metropolitan area; Anchorage and Wasilla Alaska; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Meridian, Idaho. For a store in your area, comment below and we’ll post the Fred Meyer Specialty Cheese Kiosk nearest you.

The Lady and The Chef from her store went on a field trip last week and checked out the new food carts on Belmont. They walked around and chatted with a couple of the folks. From there, they headed up Belmont to the Mt. Tabor neighborhood to visit The Cheese Bar, the recently opened cheese shop by cheesemonger extraordinaire, Steve Jones, who refers to himself as “Just a Guy”. Calling himself “just a guy” is akin to Tiger Woods (back in the day) calling himself “Just a golfer”.

Steve’s creds include winning the first ever (with Rogue Creamery’s Tom Voorhees) Cheesemonger Merchandising Competition at the 2009 American Cheese Society Conference. This year he will be judging the more than 1400 cheeses submitted to the 2010 ACS Competition in hopes of being named “Best of Show”. Before the Cheese Bar, Steve ran Steve’s Cheese in the Alphabet neighborhood of NW Portland. Back in 2006, Tami Parr (Artisan Cheese of the Pacific Northwest and The Pacific Northwest Cheese Project) interviewed Steve for PortlandFoodandDrink.com. You can read the interview by clicking here.

David Lockwood, Managing Director, and Raef Hodgson, USA Export Manager for Great Britain Cheese Exporter, Neal’s Yard were sampling three terrific cheeses and you can read our reviews by clicking here.

After sampling the cheeses and chatting with the swells from Neal’s Yard, The Lady and The Chef checked out the menu and decided to stay and have lunch.

The Cheese Bar opened in a store front at 61st and Belmont. If memory serves me right, the address was previously a delicatessen making it perfect for Steve’s new digs. In addition to a superior selection of local, domestic and imported cheeses (which are cut to order only), the Cheese Bar also offers a smallish selection of charcuterie and items to compliment the cheeses and charcuterie and beer and wine.

The shop has the feel of a neighborhood hangout with a few tables and two “bar” areas; one across the front floor-to-ceiling glass window and a main one behind which all of the ordering and food preparation takes place. There are a couple of tables inside; a couple out front on the sidewalk and two on a patio at the rear of the shop. The place was pleasantly full at 3pm in the afternoon with folks enjoying wine by-the-glass and beer on-tap.

The food menu was a large blackboard hanging behind the bar area and was handwritten. The Lady and The Chef decided it is handwritten daily depending on what’s being served.

Saturday there were three sandwiches: #1, #2 and #3. There were two salads…yep #1 and #2. You could also order a cheese plate with baguette and extras such as fig spread, nuts, tapenade, etc.

The Chef ordered #1 Sandwich which was Hot Capicola with Fontina, Balsamic Mayo and Arugula on a Baguette. The Lady ordered #3 which was grilled whole grain bread with Ham, Mozzarella, Roasted Tomato and Salsa Verde.

As is to be expected, The Chef is a very picky eater and pronounced his sandwich “Wonderful, particularly the baguette.” The Lady was busy swooning over her own sandwich which she pronounced “Perfectomento”. The Chef had a draft beer and The Lady had “Cold” tea which Steve explained they served and not Iced Tea.

The Lady asked where they bought their bread and the waitress said it came from New Seasons which has its own bakery. I suspect The Lady may be visiting New Seasons soon and bringing home a couple of loaves and baguettes.

The entire tab was just under $20 and the conversation was priceless…

The Chef and The Lady give the sandwiches at The Cheese Bar 4 Paws out of 4 Paws…there she goes, borrowing my paws again…sheesh…

As for the Cheese Bar itself, The Lady says that 4 Paws is not enough… it’s quite a special place…

If you are in Southeast Portland, be sure and stop in for a glass of wine and a slice of cheese or a sandwich and a beer… you’ll also meet some of the friendly folks who live in the Mt. Tabor neighborhood. The Cheese Bar is closed on Mondays but otherwise is open daily from 11am to 11pm.