San Andreas

Made with Raw Sheep Milk & Vegetarian Suitable Cheese

Fellow cheese lovers, The Lady’s new cheese gig is just about the best thing that ever happened to this Feline Foodie. Second only to the day The Brain deployed me to Burbank to assume the command recently vacated when the Mighty Mike Tyson was called home to the Mothership. My cheese fridge runneth over. The Lady told me there were thousands of cheeses made around the world and every time she goes away… she returns with gifts… cheese, of course. I pray The Brain allows me time enough to taste every cheese known to man including Yak Milk cheese… The Man and I are lonely when she travels but upon her return we are blessed… it doesn’t get any better than this…

Hidden in her luggage, along with the Bayley Hazen Blue, was a wedge from the California farm where our good friend Lenny works: Bellwether Farms. They make Carmody, another perennial favorite around the manse. You can read my review here.

This time she brought home San Andreas, made using raw sheep milk. This farmstead cheese is as smooth as Frank Sinatra’s croon and as full-bodied as Marilyn Monroe… my small homage to the time when singers were singers and women still had curves… but I digress…

With each sheep milk cheese we taste, The Lady and I become more enamored and San Andreas doesn’t disappoint. It’s creamy and mild with just a hint of sour on the finish. It might be likened to a pecorino from the Tuscany region of Italy.

The Lady served this with Divina Halkidiki Olives sprinkled with Sicilian herbs and to know one’s surprise… The Man swooned…

I give Bellwether Farms San Andreas 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got.)

Serving Suggestions: As part of a cheese plate, all you need to add are a few olives and rustic bread.

Wine Pairing: I would suggest a new blended red.

Beer Pairing: A blonde ale might make an interesting pairing.

Awards: 2007 ACS – Second in Class

Editorial Note: You can expect more 4 Paw ratings that I normally award. The Lady’s new job is exposing her to the crème de la crème of cheese… stay tuned… it’ll only get better…

Bayley Hazen Blue

July 3, 2011

Made Using Raw Milk

Let’s face it; the good folks of Vermont, for the most part, travel to the beat of a different drum. Despite their unbridled sense of independence, Vermont citizens also possess a great responsibility to each other and the land they call “The Kingdom of Vermont”. .. This attitude has also spilled over to my fellow observers who watch over that Quadrant in the NE United States and SE Canada. The Brain constantly finds himself spending precious time whipping those pesky, independently-thinking felines into line… not unlike herding cats… but I digress…

In the mid-1990s, Andy and Mateo Kehler, just out of college, headed to Vermont, land of many pleasant summer childhood memories spent at their grandparents’ home, with just one dream… to grow hops and make beer. What newly-graduated college guys don’t dream of making beer? In my younger days, I dreamt of my own endless fields of catnip, organically grown using sustainable farming practices… ah the good ole days…

The Brothers Kehler bought two hundred acres of farmland near Greensboro, Vermont and began studying the practicality of making beer. It just wasn’t there. Then came tofu; again it was a no go. They looked around and bam!! The light went on; they were in the middle of Dairyland. So… what do you do in the middle of Dairyland? You buy cows and become dairy farmers. Luckily for cheese lovers everywhere, that’s just what they did.

In 1998, Jasper Hills Farm was born and the brothers began to educate themselves on sustainable farming. Mateo, who had a degree in economic development, spent three years working with farmstead cheesemakers in the U.S., England, France and Spain. One of those years was spent working at Neal’s Yard Dairy in England. He also began to develop recipes for making cheeses appropriate for their dairy in the Northeast corner of the Kingdom of Vermont.

Andy has a degree in poli sci and philosophy… philosophy, now I finally know how you use a degree in philosophy… you make cheese… did I say that out loud??? (Andy, no disrespect… please forgive my free association… J) In 1993, Andy worked on a sustainable agriculture project in Chile, which included dairy operations. He is a building inspector and contractor which provided him with the knowledge and skills to design and build a state of the art dairy facility. And that’s exactly what he has done.

In 2002, the brothers bought a herd of 15 Ayrshire heifers and began their adventure making some great cheeses. And then another dream became reality… The Cellars at Jasper Hills… state of the art aging caves where the brothers take the young cheeses of their fellow cheesemakers, age them and prepare them for the consumer.

The Lady and I greatly admire the accomplishments of these two brothers who truly care for the land, the animals and also for other dairy farmers.

The brothers make two cheeses and one is Bayley Hazen Blue. This natural rind blue cheese, made from whole raw Ayrshire milk, primarily uses morning milk with less fat.

The Lady, The Man and I love this cheese. Because it is made with raw milk, the tastes of grass and hints of nuts are stronger than the blue mold making a well-balanced cheese. You get the best of both worlds; raw milk delight and kick from the blue. This cheese is a little drier than many blues and crumbles well. Your next cheese plate should finish with Bayley Hazen Blue.

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

Serving Suggestions: Even though it crumbles well, I would be reluctant to “waste” this wonderful cheese on a salad… of course, that being said, you’d be talking a superior salad. The Lady served it naked with a warm baguette. The Man swooned and while he was swooning I pawed off an extra serving for myself. The Lady noticed the paw marks but thankfully she was still feeling guilt at leaving me home while she was gallivanting in New York… so she merely smiled… You might drizzle a little honey on this cheese and serve with hazelnuts.

Wine Pairing: Tawny Port or a sweet, chilled dessert wine.

Beer Pairing: A chocolate stout would pair well with Bayley Hazen Blue.

Awards: 2007 ACS 2nd Place in the Open Farmstead Category.

Trivia: Bayley Hazen is an old military road that traverses Northern Vermont. Our first U.S. President, still a General, commissioned the road to carry troops to fight the British on the Canadian front, should one open up. No battle ever took place, but the road carried the first settlers into the Greensboro, Vermont area. The road is still used today.

La Tur

June 18, 2011

Recently, when asked what her favorite cheese is, The Lady replied, “Usually the last one I tasted.”  And this is the last one I tasted and it’s now a new favorite around the manse.

La Tur is a small, dense, creamy wheel of bloomy rind heaven made from a combination of cow, sheep and goat milks. The snowy rind resembles a brain… not to be confused with The Brain… and just inside is a cream line of gooey, decadent tang surrounding an earthy, lactic paste. The lingering after-taste is satisfying and remains long after the entire wheel has been devoured.

It’s small enough to be consumed my two humankinds and one feline foodie in one sitting… even though one of them is a bit on the selfish side and once more tried to get more than his fair share…

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

Serving Suggestions: All you need is a paw or if you’re of the humankind persuasion, a nice slice of warm baguette will do nicely. Nothing fancy, just some luscious cheese and a vessel to transport it to your mouth.

Wine Suggestion: Champagne or a Sparkling Wine

Beer Suggestion: Maybe a Dortmunder Export

Source: Pasteurized Cow, Goat and Sheep Milks

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!!!

We love this cheese around the manse and reviewed it recently. You’ll love it, too. And finally it’s available in the U.S. Please contact Grand Prix Trading for more information. We also saw a blurb about this 2010 “Best New Cheese” while reading Culture Magazine yesterday.

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 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.

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

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.