From Top: Hopyard, Raw Milk Sharp Cheddar and Mountina

After our entrée last night The Lady served a Cheese Plate for dessert with fresh Peach Salsa that she made using veggies from The Garden of The Man. The Salsa recipe is posted over on our recipe blog and you can check it out by clicking here. The bounty from The Garden of The Man has been wonderful the last few weeks after a cold spring and cool summer.

The Lady served three cheeses that she bought in the Rogue Creamery Gift Shop last week with the fresh peach salsa. Perhaps it was a strange pairing, but with fresh fruit and veggies, one can never really go wrong.

The first cheese on the plate was Mountina, a mountain-style cheese from the “Alpine-ish” Mountains of Montana. Dwayne and Darryl of the Vintage Cheese Company decided to make an American Artisan cheese fashioned after the great Swiss cheeses like Le Gruyere and Emmenthal. Well, they succeeded. I found this cheese to be nutty and sweet in the center and a little richer as you approach the washed-rind that was also coated in a thin, breathable wax. Of the three, this was the perfect cheese to start our cheese plate adventure. Perhaps a bit milder than its inspiration but with a little more age, I suspect it will become heartier.

I give the Mountina 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: In addition to snacking, this would also make an excellent melting cheese for cooking.

Libation pairings will appear at the end of this review.

The second cheese was a Rogue Creamery creation in collaboration with Rogue Ales: Hopyard, a Rogue Creamery cheese mixed with Freedom Hops from the Chatoe Rogue Micro Hopyard in Oregon’s Wigrich Appellation (now that’s quite a mouthful, even for the Feline Foodie). The whole hops are de-stemmed by hand, steeped in hot water and mixed with the curds and then pressed into blocks. The result is a tasty cheese that even a non-beer drinker finds delightful. I suspect that if you love beer, then you will really take to this cheese.

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

Serving Suggestions: Again, on a cheese plate you’ll be happy as a clam… or a cat… as the case may be…

The third cheese on the plate was the one that made The Man swoon and delighted The Lady and moi, as well: Raw Milk Sharp Cheddar. This cheese is crumbly with a distinct bite and a lingering bitterness that is the perfect finish for a sharp cheddar. We enjoyed all three but this cheese was our favorite. You can always count on cheddar being a hit around the manse.

I give the Rogue Creamery Raw Milk Sharp Cheddar 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: This is definitely both a snacking and cooking cheese. The Lady plans to use the rest of it with a larger wedge of Rouge Creamery Tou Velleto make a mac n cheese (the recipe will appear on our sister blog… stay tuned).

2005 Madrone Mountain Mundo Novo

Now for the libation pairings: The Man suggests the 75th Anniversary Rogue Ale made by Rogue Ales to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Rogue Creamery.

The Lady served the 2005 Mondo Novo from Madrone Mountain, a port-style dessert wine made especially to be enjoyed with Rogue cheeses… and it was.

A bit of trivia, the brandy snifter in the picture is from the movie, Titanic, and is a replica of the crystal used on the maiden (and as it turns out, last as well) voyage of the Titanic. The filmmaker wanted everything authentic in the movie, right down to the china, silver and crystal.Later the props were sold through the catalog of J. Peterman and The Lady bought two as an anniversary gift for The Man.

And yet one more bit of trivia: Did you know that the Rogue Creamery Gift Shop in Central Point, Oregon has been named a Top Tourist destination in Oregon? The Lady said the morning her group was there, a steady stream of visitors were buying cheeses and wines. One group of four (two couples) from Northern California told The Lady they travel four and a half hours several times a year to visit the creamery and Fred Meyer. She added, “There’s nothing like Fred Meyer in California and that’s a shame.”

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Raw Milk Cheese

Vegetarian-Suitable Cheese

I’m sitting in my small, cramped home bunker working my paws off… and attempting to wrangle The Man… while The Lady is off cavorting this week with the Cheese Swells at Rogue Creamery. As I have said before… and often… there is something seriously wrong with the division of labor around here… but I digress.

First and foremost, The Lady will be sharing her Rogue adventure when she returns. She was invited by DPI to join a group of Fred Meyer cheesemongers who won a trip to make cheese at Rogue Creamery. The six winners were chosen based on increased sales of Rogue cheeses at their respective kiosks or based on their skillful merchandising of the Creamery’s cheeses.

Here’s a shout out to the winners: Mary, Shannon, Amber, Karen, Erin (whom, according to The Lady, drives like a maniac) and Terri. Congratulations on your success!!!

After making cheese yesterday the group was treated to a Rogue Cheese Plate that included two cheeses we have previously reviewed: Oregon Blue and Tou Velle. Also on the plate were two cheeses, we have not reviewed. One is Echo Mountain. The other will be reviewed in the next couple of days once I have The Lady back in the manse… where she will pay… heavily… for leaving me home… again…

Echo Mountain is a blended milk cheese made from goat and cow milk from two Sustainable Dairies that The Lady visited while at Rogue… do the indignities never end… here I sit reporting… but I’m not bitter… who am I kidding, of course I’m bitter…

The Lady met the goats who contribute the milk for Echo Mountain and evidently one of them got a bit friendly… and then she met the cows that contribute the milk for this cheese.

The Too-Friendly Goat

There will be more on the Sustainable Farming programs that the dairy farmers and Rogue Creamery practice but for now all I’m saying is… Wow!!! Are you going to be impressed…

As time goes by and more cheeses are tasted, The Lady and I become bigger fans of goat milk cheeses and we’ve found another winner.

Echo Mountain is creamy and rich with beautiful blue veining throughout the paste. The blending of cow and goat brings a little earthiness and a goat tang. At the same time it’s subtle and complex. It melts on the palate and leaves a unique, lingering finish.

The Lady, through the power of telepathy, has asked me to give Echo Mountain 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). Let me add, she sure as heck had better bring a wedge of this cheese home to moi, your not-so-humble, feline foodie.

Serving Suggestions: On a cheese plate, this cheese is a great way to finish. Thanks to Burgerville, we learned here in the Pacific Northwest, that this cheese is perfect on a burger. In chatting with David Gremmels, The Lady learned that Burgerville contributed a portion of the profits from the sales of the Echo Mountain Burgers to the American Cheese Society Educational Fund – thank you Burgerville!!! Read the Burgerville Press Release by clicking here.

Wine Pairing: 2005 Madrone Mountain Mundo Novo Dessert Wine. She had this divine Port-style wine while her group enjoyed dinner at the home of David and Cary, the owners of Rogue Creamery… yep, you know what I’m thinking…

Beer Pairing: Rogue Ale’s Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout

Source: Sustainable Cow and Goat Milks

Please “Like” Rogue Creamery on Facebook and “Follow” them on Twitter.

Stay Tuned: All weekend, The Lady and I will be reporting on her trip to Rogue Creamery… she asked me to send out a huge thank you to everyone at the creamery for an unforgettable cheese memory…
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Upadam

Padam, Padam

Songs of passion. . .French cabaret music, klezmer, tangos, Latin and original music.

Updated June 12, 2011

Padam, Padam at the Cheese Kiosk

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.

Local cheesemakers include: Tillamook, Willamette Valley Cheese Company, Tumalo Farms, Appel Farms, Rogue Creamery and Beecher’s Handmade 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!!!

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…

The Lady and The Man were at the Portland Farmers’ Market last weekend and picked up a mini-wheel of local brie, French Prairie, made by our friends at the Willamette Valley Cheese Company in Salem, Oregon.

The Lady served a cheese and pate board last night and included this brie. It was a major hit with all three of us; but The Man ate more than his share… what a surprise…

The bloomy rind is snowy white with an interior that is also snowy white; much whiter than most brie we enjoy around the manse. This particular wheel was also creamy to the point of almost (but not quite) runny. It was heavenly. The taste was buttery with just a note of sour. Sitting on a Whole Grain 34° Crispbread Cracker, this cheese treat sent The Man swooning to the point of being embarrassing… seriously…

The Lady carries WVCC’s Brindisi at her kiosk but sadly not this divine brie… I suspect she will attempt to rectify that situation… The Man would be grateful to have a slightly easier way to satisfy his French Prairie “jones”…

I give WVCC French Prairie 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: Serve with French bread or crackers; this cheese deserves to be served alone.

Wine Pairing: A bit of bubbly pairs well with this brie.

Beer Pairing:  Little Pookie’s Olde Ale from Steelhead Brewery Co.

Source: 100% Jersey Cow Milk

Update February 3, 2011: Curtis, the Costco buyer of their specialty cheese and The Lady chatted this morning and while he wouldn’t confirm who made this fine cheese, he did let The Lady know (and she asked me to pass this along), this cheese is a LIMITED EDITION that was added for Holiday 2010. That means what is in the stores now, is all there is and WHEN IT’S GONE, IT’S GONE… but Curtis assured The Lady it will return in the fall of 2011. Out thanks to Curtis for returning The Lady’s call.

Despite best efforts by your favorite Feline Foodie (that would be moi) I was unable to suss out which of the Vermont cheesemakers produce this superb cheddar for Costco’s private brand, Kirkland Signature. A phone call to Costco’s corporate office (complete with detailed message) went unreturned… shame on Costco employees for not returning calls to customers… especially to customers who will be writing a review of their product… you don’t need to be a brain surgeon… well, what do I know??? Perhaps you do need to be a brain surgeon to return phone calls… but I digress.

In our never-ending quest to taste every cheese in the world, The Lady picked up a wedge of Kirkland Signature “Cave-Aged Vermont Cheddar” at our local Costco and brought it home for The Man and moi to taste.

A little Costco/Kirkland Signature history/information first. The Lady and The Man have been members of Costco (and the previous Price Club) since the early 80s. They are devoted members and believe that Costco only sells top-of-the-line product in pretty much every product they carry. They have never been disappointed with anything that comes from Costco and the price points are amazing.

Kirkland Signature products must be as good or better than the national brand providing the product to Costco and must offer a substantial savings to the customer. In 2010 the percentage of Kirkland Signature product was about 10% of the entire inventory and the percentage will continue to grow. Costco chooses the products and then lets the members decide if the product stays or goes according to sales.

Now for the Cave-Aged Vermont Cheddar:

The rind indicates this is a clothbound cheddar made in the traditional English manner and only a small handful of Vermont cheesemakers produce a cheddar of this superb quality: Grafton, Jasper Hills, Cabot…

This just in… From a “secret source” we just learned that this cheese is from Cabot Creamery and is a younger version of their own clothbound cheddar.

The aroma is earthy, which is how clothbound cheddar should smell. The paste is an ivory cream color and the texture is crumbly. The taste is sweet and nutty… everything you look for in a cheddar of this quality. The lingering aftertaste is nice and mellow. The cheese is robust without overpowering the palate.

The Lady served it with Dare Cabaret Crackers and Pinot Colada Jam from Oregon’s Vintner’s Kitchen. (The Lady previously paired this jam with The Isle of Man Cheddar back in October, 2010 – Pinot Colada is a great pairing for mature cheddars…) As you might expect, the flavor burst between the cheese and the jam made The Man swoon. More people need to pair cheese and jams: the savory and the sweet combination is hard to beat.

I give Kirkland Signature Cave-Aged Vermont Cheddar 3 Paws out of 4 Paws but I must give the pairing of this cheddar with the jam 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). (I won’t rate the “call-Return” service from Costco… you be the judge…)

Serving Suggestions: On a cheese plate with jams, salamis and even mustards would create an immediate hit. This cheese would also be great in a mixed-cheese mac n cheese recipe. I suspect it will end up in such a recipe as the wedge weighed north of a pound… that’s another Costco trait – no small wedges…

Wine Pairing: Bota Box Merlot. The Man was stunned when The Lady brought home wine in a box; but her Wine Merchant friend, Mark from Southern-Odom, sells it and The Lady bought it based on his recommendation. Now Bota Box seems to appear more and more around the manse…

Beer Pairing: Following her trip to The Tualatin “No Pets” Country Club for the cheese tasting with our friend, Waldemar Albrecht, The Lady has developed a taste for Rogue Chocolate Stout and decided this cheddar would pair well with it… she was correct…

Source: Cow’s Milk

Stay Tuned: we are only 8 posts and pages away from our 500th post here (doesn’t include our sister recipe blog, cheesemonger recipes). We have big plans for 500!!

Photo Courtesy Naomi Fujinaka

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.