Washington State University Cheesemaking Classes For 2011

Washington State University CreameryWashington State University Creamery will be sponsoring several upcoming cheesemaking workshops. The first is a three day Basic Cheesemaking Short Course February 16-18th in Lynden, Washington. The three day course will cover issues ranging from milk and milk quality, cheesemaking and troubleshooting and regulatory issues involved in setting up a cheese plant of your own. Instructor Marc Bates, former head of the WSU Creamery in Pullman, will be leading the course; he is well known for his decades long involvement with the artisan cheese community in the region. The early registration rate for this workshop is $529. For more info see the full description here.

The second course, an Advanced Cheesemaking Shortcourse, will be held March 15-17th, 2011 at WSU Creamery in Pullman, Washington. This course is designed for experienced cheesemakers, supervisory, management, quality control and marketing personnel from commercial/industrial plants. Instruction is provided from leaders in the cheese industry community. This is an advanced class so it is recommended that you have some experience in cheesemaking or have attended a basic cheesemaking class as prerequisite. Cost for this workshop is $789 (early registration rate). For more info see the full description here.

On April 20-21st, 2011, WSU Creamery presents its Pasteurization Workshop. This course will cover vat and basic HTST systems. Additional discussions on magnetic flow timed systems and systems with auxiliary equipment are included. Hands-on activities are conducted in the WSU Creamery Facilities. Course is suggested for plant operators, maintenance personnel, quality personnel, management and suppliers to the industry. Register now to receive the early registration rate of $289. For more info see the full description here.

If you're interested in learning more about the ins and outs of how cheese is made - and especially if you have an idea that you'd like to start making and selling cheese - WSU is the place to go. I especially recommend the Basic Cheesemaking Short Course for beginners...more than just an average how-to, this course demonstrates the intricate complexities of the cheesemaking process. Many, many current professional artisan cheesemakers in the Pacific Northwest have taken a WSU courses at one point in their cheese careers.

----> For more information and/or to register for one or more workshops click here.

Oregon Cheese Guild Cheesemakers Conference January 22-23rd, 2011

The Oregon Cheese Guild will hold its sixth annual Cheesemakers Conference on January 22-23rd, 2011 at Oregon State University in Corvalllis, Oregon. Among the topics to be discussed: choosing to make cheese for a living, milk quality testing, choosing equipment, OSHA issues and a soft cheese tasting demo that will lead participants through a series of tastings of both flawed and well made cheeses to assist in improving quality and safety.

The sessions are specifically geared toward cheesemaker education and are open to non-members (see fees below). This is a great opportunity to meet and network with Oregon's cheesemaking community as well as learn about some of the more technical aspects of making cheese.

Cost is free for OCG members and $45 for non-members; proceeds benefit the Oregon Cheese Guild. Attendees may pay at the door or pre-register and pay online here.

For details and/or to see the full conference program, download the complete brochure here:

Download 2011 OCG Conference Program

Recall News Roundup & Fundraising Update for Estrella Family Creamery

Estrella Family Creamery

Fundraising for Estrella Family Creamery

A fundrasing pledge page has been set up for Estrella Family Creamery as they wage their battle with the FDA; supporters have raised almost $8,000 so far towards the considerable legal expenses faced by the family. A blog & Facebook page have also been set up to help publicize the campaign - see below for links to all.

Pledge Page

Help the Estrella Family Creamery Blog

Save the Estrella Family Creamery on Facebook


In addition, there have been a number of news articles popping up on issues related to the Estrellas, Bravo Farms, the FDA and raw milk generally. Here's a brief roundup; if you're aware of others let me know and I will add any/all to the list.

* * * * Capital Press

FDA Seizure Leaves Cheesemaker Depleted by Steve Brown

* * * * Oregonian (Portland, Oregon)

Raw Milk Cheese in the Northwest, Elsewhere on FDA Radar by Lynne Terry

* * * * Fresno Bee (Fresno, CA)

Raw Milk Cheese Faces New Scrutiny by Robert Rodriguez

* * * * New York Times

Small Cheesemaker Defies FDA over Recall by William Neuman

As Cheesemaking Blooms, So Can Listeria by William Neuman

Slideshow: Estrella Family Creamery

Weekend Cheese Events Nov. 12-14th, 2010

Moonstruck Chocolatier Friday Nov 12th This Friday, join me at the Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe in Lake Oswego, Oregon from 5-7pm, where I'll be part of the Chocolate and Cheese Pairing event. Moonstruck recently released several amazing single origin chocolate bars [see them here] and I was lucky enough to be able to develop cheese pairings that go with these amazing chocolates. We'll be pairing chocolates with cheeses like Camembert, Cantal and Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue. Cheese and chocolate go amazingly well together, by the way...stop by the cafe and try some for yourself!

And if you can't make it tomorrow, there will be two more Cheese and Chocolate events: Friday Nov. 19th at the Moonstruck Cafe on NW 23rd and Friday December 10th at the Moonstruck Cafe in Beaverton (both in the greater Portland area).

Saturday Nov 13th


Foster and DobbsFrom 12-5pm this Saturday, Foster and Dobbs will hold its 5th Annual Anniversary Celebration and Open House! For five years, Luan Schooler and Tim Wilson have been a fixture in Portland's Irvington neighborhood, dispensing the best in cheese, wine, charcuterie and all sorts of other good things. Also in attendance: Vern Caldwell from Pholia Farm; Carine Goldin from Goldin Artisan Goat Cheese in Molalla, Oregon and Elias Cairo from Olympic Provisions and others. And you know they'll be sampling a whole bunch of great, great stuff. Stop by, celebrate and congratulate Luan and Tim!




The Calf and Kid Artisan Cheese ShopCalf & Kid, the lovely new Seattle cheese shop on Capitol Hill, will be hosting author Sasha Davies from 2-4pm on Saturday. Sasha will be signing copies of her new book, The Guide to West Coast Cheese and there is a distinct possibility of tasting some great cheeses as well.


Sunday Nov 14th

Briar Rose CreameryAnd if that's not enough cheese action for you, this Sunday, Cheese Bar in Portland will be hosting new Oregon cheese producer Briar Rose Creamery along with Petunia Panforte in the house starting at 3pm. I especially recommend you try some of cheesemaker Sarah Marcus' great goat cheese chocolate truffles...they're award-winning and addictive!

Funds Benefit Cheese Producers Under Fire

Central Co-op in Seattle, Washington (note: also known as Madison Market) is collecting funds to benefit Estrella Family Creamery in their ongoing legal battles. From their recent newsletter:

Food safety is of the utmost importance to [us] and the craftspeople from who we get our goods. Too, food safety is a real life challenge for all producers. Instead of punishing local artisans for their trials, we choose to support them in developing stronger controls. The Estrellas feed their children their cheese; they are real people, real farmers, who would never risk eaters’ health to turn a buck.

Patrons of the market can contribute any amount they wish at the cash registers in the store. If you live outside of the Seattle area, you can send a check to the store payable to Central Co-op (address and other info here) with "Estrella Family Creamery" in the subject line.

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You may already be familiar with the recall of raw milk cheeses at Morningland Dairy in Missouri. This saga has achieved a high profile in part because Morningland Dairy products were among those seized during the infamous raid at Rawsome Foods in Venice, CA in June of this year. Footage of the raid, taken by a security camera (see here) shows that authorities arrived at the market with guns drawn. The incident was later parodied by Stephen Colbert. 

In addition to the past recall, Morningland Dairy faces the seizure and destruction of 50,000 lbs of their cheese (cheese Morningland says is not tainted) by the state of Missouri. A fund has been set up to benefit them in their legal battle against Missouri state authorities and the FDA. For more info or to contribute to this cause via Paypal, click here.

Upcoming Cheese Events in Seattle and Portland

The Guide to West Coast CheeseThis Friday September 17th from 4:30 to 6:30, Foster and Dobbs in Portland presents a book signing event with Sasha Davies, author of The Guide to West Coast Cheeseand Cole Danehower, author of Essential Wines and Wineries of the Pacific Northwest. Joining the authors and their lovely books will be Phelps Creek Vineyards and Anam Cara Cellars, pouring their wines, as well as Paul Obringer from Oregon's Ancient Heritage Dairy, who will be sampling some of his family's exceptional sheep and cow's milk cheeses straight from the farm.

And if you can't make it on Friday, look for these authors and their books on Saturday Sept 18th at 1pm at Pastaworks on SE Hawthorne in Portland, held in conjunction with Powell's Books right next door.


*   *   *   *   *   *

Metropolitan Market

In the Seattle area, from Sept. 15-28th, Metropolitan Market presents its annual "For the Love of Cheese" event. At all six locations, stores will be celebrating the great bounty of local cheese with in-store events with local cheesemakers such as Black Sheep Creamery, Estrella Family Creamery, Gothberg Farms and many others. No doubt there will be plenty of cheese to sample, savor and purchase throughout the promotion!

This weekend's events:

Friday 9/17 Brad Gregory from Black Sheep Creamery will be at the Proctor store (Tacoma) from 3-7pm.

Saturday 9/18 Daphne Zepos of Essex St. Cheese Co. at the Uptown Store (Seattle Center) from 12-5pm

Sunday 9/19 Matt Day from Mt. Townsend Creamery will be at the Admiral store (West Seattle) from 12-5pm

For more events as well as directions to individual stores, see the website here.


Recall - What's in a Name?

On September 4th, the FDA issued a news release saying that listeria had been found one of the caves at Estrella Family Creamery. They advised that consumers should be wary of any cheeses from Estrella - saying "The FDA cautions consumers about Estrella Family Creamery cheeses," and added that the cheeses may put consumers at risk for Listeria monocytogenes.

At least two major media outlets - Food Safety News and The Oregonian (from which many others draw content) initially reported this story as a 'recall' of Estrella Family Creamery products. To their credit - and at my insistence - both have since changed their published stories on their websites.

As the Estrellas have stated in their response to the FDA's news release, they have been working with state and federal authorities since the recalls of earlier this year to address a number of issues and procedures. The ongoing testing, which revealed the most recent positive, is part of that process. There is no recall, at least not yet. None of the products from the area of contamination were released to the public.

Here's why I'm concerned about this: the word "recall" conjures up all sorts of fears and, let's face it, fans the flames of food hysteria. Whether these fears are justified or misplaced is going to be specific to an individual incident, but I think that's a fair statement, in general. So I think that everyone, and particularly the news media, has an obligation to use the word judiciously and accurately. It's not fair to play to consumers' fears, or add to what the Estrellas are dealing with right now, to conflate an internal testing issue - albeit an important one, no doubt - with a full blown recall.

Are we just splitting hairs here about terminology? I don't think so. I would certainly hope that we can all agree that there is no recall when there is not a formal effort on the part of federal or state authorities, or the cheesemakers, to bring back products that have been sold because of fear of potential contamination. Then let's not call it a recall - OK? Period. I think this casts the situation in an entirely different light. (As an aside, there is actually a whole category of FDA regulations devoted to the definition of 'recall' - if you're interested in such things look here).

As a consumer, whether or not you choose to be wary of Estrella Family Creamery products based on this information is up to you. But make sure you have all of the facts before deciding one way or the other.

For the cheese industry: this just goes to show that one of your best friends during this type of situation could be a good PR person.


Update: for further information on this developing story, see my later posting here. According to the FDA, they asked the Estrellas to recall their products (at the time of this original posting) because testing indicated listeria was still present at the creamery. The Estrellas refused, reasoning that no products were available to the public. In October, the FDA shut down the creamery.

ACS Public Cheese Sale Sunday 11am-2pm Palace Ballroom Seattle

OK, so you've coveted the cheeses, now purchase them. CHEAP!

If you've wondered what they do with all of the thousands of pounds of cheese that's floating around during the American Cheese Society Conference - well, here's your answer. The American Cheese Society will hold its annual Public Cheese Sale this Sunday from 11am-2pm at the Palace Ballroom in Seattle.

This is a killer sale and a fabulous opportunity to purchase cheese from small producers that you will never see again in the Northwest. For cheap - $5/piece - and that is a total steal for rare gems from all parts of the country that are normally $20-30/lb. I'm serious, this is like the cheese flea market of your dreams, the "Running of the Brides" of the cheese industry. All I can say is - get there early and come with $$. Cash is preferred.

* * * * *

ACS Public Cheese Sale
Palace Ballroom
11am-2pm  August 29th, 2010