Member, Association of Food Bloggers
This week marks my three year anniversary as your sometimes humble… and sometimes… not so humble cheese correspondent. In that time, I have written 532 posts reviewing more  than 750 cheeses (and I have 100+ reviews waiting in the wings…) and 31 pages providing other information about all things cheese. The Lady likes to grab the glory but we all know who’s the brain behind this blog… not to be confused with The Brain

The first cheese I reviewed was from my friends in Seattle: Beecher’s No Woman. I love this cheese. When The Lady brings this cheese home… which is never often enough… I claw my way up her leg to get at those tasty and spicy morsels. Three years later and hundreds of cheese tasted and reviewed, No Woman remains my personal favorite. The Lady is nothing short of fickled on this front; her “favorite” cheese is usually the last one she tasted… how capricious… sheesh… humankinds… pick a favorite and stick with it…

Looking Back…

The Lady began her cheese career as a part-time Cheese Steward for Fred Meyer  (yep, that’s The Lady in that picture) in July 2008; in January 2009, she became a Cheese Lead for Fred Meyer’s Flagship store in Portland and in June 2011, she became the Murray’s Cheese Specialist for Kroger and Fred Meyer.

DPI blocked its employees’ access to my blog; then later, due to public outcry, retracted its sad and uninformed decision.

The Bedford Cheese Shop in Brooklyn decided to get snarky and called me zoomorphically delusional… like they’d even know a zoomorphically delusional feline… should one walk through their door.

During these blogging years, while I worked my paws to the bones, The Lady visited cheesemakers in Wisconsin twice and “made” cheese at Roth Kase and Beecher’s Cheese. Please note, that in both instances, when it says “made cheese; it means the real cheesemakers let The Lady do stuff that would mess up the cheese… She received a Certificate in Cheese 101 from Roth Kase and attended two Cheese 101 Classes led by Liz Thorpe of Murray’s Cheese. She scored perfectly following two days of training and became a “Red Jacket-Certified” Murray’s Cheesemonger. In June, she attended Murray’s Boot Camp; she attended training classes in Dallas and this week returned from Denver where she assisted in her first training class of the new Murray’s cheesemongers at King Soopers… all the while leaving The Man and moi at home to fend for ourselves… wrangling The Man is a full-time job, let me tell you… God Bless The Lady, she’s been doing it for 31 years… and loving it, I might add… but I’m not bitter…

The Webmaster of the  Estate of Spalding Gray, John Boland, suggested I change my name and not trade on the success of the great actor whose name The Lady chose for moi out of admiration and no other reason… except I have gray hair. If we want to get picky, then perhaps  John Boland should change his name and not trade on the success of the Athlete, John Boland, who won gold medals at the Games of the 1 Olympiad in Athens in 1896… just saying…

In 2010, the blog was named to two “Top Cheese Blogs” lists on the web; this week, the 160,000th visitor dropped by this blog and more than 18K have visited my recipe blog.

The Lady, The Man and I hit the road to Seattle to attend the American Cheese Society Conference in 2010; although I only got as close as a Bunker somewhere in the burbs of Seattle due to the restrictive attitudes of the Seattle “No Pets Allowed” Sheraton… shame on you… while The Lady rubbed elbows with all the Cheese Swells of North America… it’s just wrong the way humankinds treat the superiorly intelligent beings known to them as felines… but I digress.

Looking Forward…

A world of cheeses to taste and review… while The Lady continues her gallivanting ways around the cheese world… next up… cheesemaking (see note above…) at Rogue Creamery and then on September 14th, she heads to the Slow Food Cheese Festival in Bra, Italy… sheesh…

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and their line of pure, all-natural products will soon be available for consumers coast to coast – literally!

Kurt Dammeier and his staff are on the last stretch to open their new Beecher’s Handmade Cheese store in the Flatiron District of New York City on the corner of East 20th Street and Broadway, June 26th!  (Not too far from Eataly.)

When visiting Beecher’s in New York, guests can grab a sandwich in the cafe and watch the cheesemakers at work or wander downstairs into their casual small-plate restaurant, The Cellar. There, they can enjoy a glass of wine in the glow of our cheese cave where row upon row of Beecher’s Flatiron cheese – available only in New York – ripens to perfection. The Cellar menu features embellished “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese, roasted veggies, braised meats, soups, artisan cheeses and charcuterie.

The Lady and I have been fans of Beecher’s and are thrilled that the East Coast Squadrons of fellow felines and humankinds will now be able to enjoy the entire line of Beecher’s Handmade Cheeses, including my personal all-time favorite cheese, No Woman.

Rolling out the début of the Hawthorne Fred Meyer’s “The Chef and The Cheesemonger” Series® will be Beecher’s Handmade Cheese’s “World’s Best” Mac and Cheese sampling on Saturday, November 20, 2010 from 1pm to 5pm.

Currently, Hawthorne is the only store in the Fred Meyer chain with its own Chef, who is teaming with the Cheese Steward Lead to create samplings using recipes that incorporate specialty cheeses and other specialty products available at their store. The Chef will use (or create) recipes which will also be sampled. The main ingredients will be available for purchase along with a free copy of each recipe to make it easy to re-create at home.

First in the series, The Chef and The Cheesemonger are thrilled to announce that Kurt Beecher Dammeier of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese located at Pike’s Market in Seattle, has graciously provided use of his recipe, “World’s Best” Mac and Cheese, which has been featured on Martha Stewart’s television series. You can view the video of Kurt and Martha by clicking here.

The recipe, just in time for Thanksgiving, will make four servings featuring Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar, the primary cheese needed to make this to-die-for Mac and Cheese. (Flagship and the other cheeses used in the recipe will all be grated and available for purchase). The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to accommodate any Thanksgiving gathering.

AND as an added bonus, Kurt is also providing signed copies of his 2007 Cookbook, Pure Flavor, which includes the “World’s Best” Mac n Cheese recipe and more than 100 other recipes that feature the unique bounty of the Pacific Northwest. Customers can enter a free drawing to win one of the cookbooks.

Future samplings are planned for 2011 and will be announced both here and on the Fred Meyer Facebook page.

Beecher’s Smoked Flagship

September 23, 2010

The Lady brought home another Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and with The Man, the three of us sat on the deck, enjoyed the evening and snacked on tasty pieces of Smoked Flagship. This week the cheese kiosk at the Hawthorne Fred Meyer has a $3 off coupon for the three Flagship cheeses they sell: Original Flagship, Flagship Reserve and Smoked Flagship. She served it with 34° Sesame Crackers and bell peppers she picked from The Man’s garden. I opted to go with the naked cheese while The Man chose the crackers and peppers with his cheese.

Smoked Flagship is the one year aged Flagship that is cold-smoked over apple and cherry wood. The result is a robust, nutty cheese with smokey taste from the hardwoods. This cheese was winner at the 2010 American Cheese Society Competition which The Lady and I attended last month… well The Lady attended and I reported from the Cheese Bunker located somewhere in the suburbs of Seattle because the Seattle “No Pets” Sheraton denied me entrance… sheesh… but I digress.

Like The Man and his Blue Cheese Jones, I have never met a Beecher’s Handmade Cheese that I didn’t like and my Beecher’s cheese streak remains intact with Smoked Flagship. This is one delicious cheese and I hope one that will become a regular in the cheese drawer.

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

Serving Suggestions: On a cheese platter with a few nuts and a little apple butter and you’ve got a terrific pairings. With a little schmear of mus musculus tartare, you’d have a perfect feline dinner. With a dry jack, you could make a smokey fondue.

Wine Pairing: The Lady served this with a California Merlot and the two flavors were well suited… at least that’s what The Lady claimed. I don’t drink wine so I can’t swear it’s a great pairing.

Beer Pairing: Broken Halo IPA from Widmer Brothers

Source: Cow Milk

Awards: You Betcha, as Sarah Palin likes to say

Since The Lady and I live in the Pacific Northwest, we wanted to send out a special shout-out to all the Northwest Cheesemakers who won ribbons at the 2010 American Cheese Society Competition last month in Seattle. (There is a link at the bottom of the page to see a complete list of winners, whom we also congratulate!!)

The following Northwest Cheesemakers won awards at the 2010 American Cheese Society Competition.

 Idaho:

Ballard Cheese LLC: Truffle and Sea Salt Cheddar – 1st in Class

Ballard Cheese LLC: Idaho Pepper Cheddar – 3rd in Class

Sorrento Lactalis, Id.: Fresh Mozzarella with Homogenized Cream – 1st in Class

Oregon:

Ochoa Cheese Factory: Don Froylan Queso Oaxaca – 2nd in Class

Rising Sun Farms: Sweet Pepper Chipotle Torta – 1st in Class

Rising Sun Farms: Marionberry Cheese Torta – 2nd Class

Rivers Edge Chevre: Sunset Bay – 3rd in Class

Rogue Creamery: Rogue Morimoto SobaAle Cheddar – 1st in Class

Rogue Creamery: Echo Mountain Blue – 1st in Class

Rogue Creamery: Rogue River Blue – 2nd in Class

Tillamook County Creamery Association: Yellow Extra Sharp Cheddar – 3rd in Class

Tillamook County Creamery Association: Yellow Sharp Cheddar – 2nd in Class

Tillamook County Creamery Association: White Medium Cheddar – 3rd in Class

Tumalo Farms: Fenacho – 2nd in Class

Tumalo Farms: Capricorns – 1st in Class

Tumalo Farms: Remembrance – 2nd in Class

Tumalo Farms: Antigo – 3rd in Class

Tumalo Farms: Classico – 3rd in Class

Willamette Valley Cheese Company: Brindisi – 3rd in Class

Willamette Valley Cheese Company: Farmstead Gouda – 3rd in Class

Willamette Valley Cheese Company: Horseradish Havarti – 1st in Class

Willamette Valley Cheese Company: Smoked Pepper & Chive Jack – 3rd in Class

Utah:

Gold Creek Ranch: Smoked Cheddar – 2nd in Class

Washington State:

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: Flagsheep – 3rd in Class

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: Marco Polo Reserve – 2nd in Class

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: Four Year Flagship – 1st in Class

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: Flagship Reserve – 3rd in Class

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: Smoked Flagship – 2nd in Class

Black Sheep Creamery: Queso de Oveja – 1st in Class

Estrella Family Creamery: Jalapeno Buttery – 2nd in Class

Estrella Family Creamery: Weebles – 1st in Class

Estrella Family Creamery: Caldwell Crik Chevrette – 1st in Class

Jacobs Creamery: Crème Fraiche – 3rd in Class

Mt. Townsend Creamery: Seastack – 1st in Class

Mt. Townsend Creamery: New Moon – 2nd in Class

Mystery Bay Farm: Chevre with Thyme and White Pepper – 1st in Class

Samish Bay Cheese: Ladysmith – 1st in Class

Samish Bay Cheese: Aged Ladysmith – 2nd in Class

Samish Bay Cheese: Ladysmith with Chives – 3rd in Class

Samish Bay Cheese: Yogurt Cheese (Labneh) – 3rd in Class

Silver Springs Creamery: Silver Springs Creamery Big “D” – 1st in Class

Silver Springs Creamery: Silver Springs Creamery Jersey Yogurt – 1st in Class

Willapa Hills Cheese: Two Faced Blue – 2nd in Class

For a complete list of all 2010 American Cheese Society Winners, please click here.

WOW!! The Lady couldn’t stop talking last night about yesterday’s conference: she attended 3 seminars; had lunch with the “cheese swells” and assisted our friend, the lovely Rhonda Gothberg of the lovely Gothberg Farms Goat Milk Cheese at the Meet the Cheesemaker Event. Rhonda not only makes great cheeses but she is also a terrific person and The Lady enjoyed spending time with her and her cheeses.

It was a full day for The Lady and she was full of funny stories and tons of new information to assist her in the cheese mines.

Her first stop of the day was the bookstore where she was fortunate to meet both Max McCalman (Mastering Cheese) and Tami Parr (Northwest Cheese Project) and have them autograph their books. Gordonzola Edgar was signing also, but we already have his book autographed… still cool to see him… as I sit in the Cheese Bunker… The hangs with the “Cheese Swells”… life can be so unfair…

The first event was Terroir in America. The first thing she learned is that only the Frenchman on the panel can really pronounce that word correctly. The panel included Dr. Amy Trubek from the University of Vermont, Ivan Larcher from France (just like the Coneheads) and Larcher Consulting and Mateo Kehler from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont and maker of that more-than-wonderful Bayley Hazen Blue. More on the details later…

She caught the end of the cheesemonger merchandising competition and took lots of pix of the 5 displays. However, because she forgot the download cord that I, your humble Feline Foodie, asked her to bring… the pictures will have to wait until we are back at the manse… one item on her “To do for Spaulding Gray list”… sheesh… humankinds…

Zuercher and Company hosted a buffet lunch. The Lady sat and chatted with her friend, Judy Norton from Norseland; the folks who brings Old Amsterdam to the American Cheese Nurds.

After lunch, The Lady attended a panel of 5 esteemed Cheesemongers talking about their philosophies on selling cheese. The panel members were Gordonzola Edgar, Nathan Aldridge (Murray’s Cheese), Tom Van Voorhees (Rogue Creamery), Megan Mullaney (Sickles Market) and Carlos Souffrant (Zingermans). So far… this is The Lady’s favorite seminar… more details later…

The third seminar was “Getting Inside the Mind of the Retail Buyer”. This panel included Laurie Greenberg (Cultural Landscapes), Steven Rosenberg (Liberty Heights Fresh in SLC), David Grotenstein (Union Market) and Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheesemongers. The Lady informed me she picked of several important tips from the group… again… more later.

And to top off her day, the lovely Cheesemaker, Rhonda Gothberg of Gothberg Farms, invited The Lady to assist her at the “Meet the Cheesemakers” where all the “Cheese Swells” were able to taste and chat one-on-one with the cheesemakers. Rhonda is one of our favorite cheesemakers and The Lady was thrilled to sit next to her and talk about her wonderful goat milk cheeses from her 22 LaMancha does.

The Lady passed up the evening social event at the seattle Aquarium, choosing hanging with The Man and having Sushi… I was left once more in the Cheese Bunker…

On deck today… cheesemaking at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, home of No Woman, two tasting events of Northwest cheeses and wines and a seminar on Affinage. Tonight, our friends at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board are hosting an event at the Convention Center… until then, I remain your humble Feline Foodie reporting from the “Cheese Bunker” hidden somewhere in the suburbs of Seattle…