Cascadia Cheese Festival :: Saturday October 20 11AM-4PM in Seattle

This Saturday, Central Co-op in Seattle presents the Third Annual Cascadia Cheese Festival. The event takes place from 11am-4pm and promises to be a great opportunity to meet local cheesemakers and try a range of local cheeses from across the style spectrum. If you've ever wanted to take some time to acquaint yourself with the region's cheesemakers and try a broad spectrum of cheeses, this is your opportunity! Here's a few of the cheesemakers that will be attending the event:

Kurtwood Farms Rivers Edge Chèvre Larkhaven Farm Tieton Farm & Creamery Mountain Lodge Farm Sunny Pine Farm Mt. Townsend Creamery Rogue Creamery

In addition to the day's festivities, from 12:00-1:30PM, Central Co-op cheesemonger Roger Bass and Julia Powers, The Traveling Cheesemonger, will present a seminar titled Cheese and Wine Tasting, in which they promise to lead you through tasting a number of tasty pairings of wine and cheese. Cost is $35 and seminar space is limited, so email or call 206-329-1545 to sign up by October 18 (that's Wednesday) to ensure your spot.

For more information check the Central Co-op website here. Central Co-op is located at 1600 E Madison in Seattle.

The Wedge Festival :: Saturday October 6th 10AM-4PM in Portland

Cheese lovers - rejoice! This Saturday, October 6th, the Oregon Cheese Guild presents the annual ever-popular Wedge Festival in Portland. Join dozens of cheesemakers from around the region  in this farmers market style event. Taste, sample, savor local cheeses you've come to know and love, including those from Willamette Valley Cheese Co., Rivers Edge Chèvre and Briar Rose Creamery. And if that isn't enough cheese for you, not to worry, festival sponsor Rogue Ales is promising a Grilled Cheese Bar in which you can choose from among a variety of locally produced artisan cheeses to stick between slices of bread.

In addition to the cheese, several seminars are planned, including Beer and Cheese (11am), Northwest Cheese 101 (1pm), and Complementing Your Cheese (3pm), each hosted by Amanda Parker of Murray's Cheese. Seminar tickets are $10/each and can be purchased online here.

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When:  Saturday October 6, 2012  10AM-4PM Where:  Green Dragon Pub, 928 SE 9th Ave., Portland, Oregon Cost:  $5 suggested donation to benefit the Oregon Cheese Guild

Portland's Foster & Dobbs Changing Ownership

Portland's Foster & Dobbs, a lovely shop in the Irvington neighborhood that has become well known and loved for its extensive selection of cheeses, cured meats, wine and other goodies, is changing hands. Tim Wilson and Luan Schooler, who have owned and operated the shop for the past seven years, announced on their website and in an email today that they are selling the shop to customers Kevin & Leslie Chigbrow. Luan and Tim will be holding a farewell party this Saturday Sept. 29th from 4-6pm.

Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival 2012

The 5th Annual Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival was held last weekend at Whistler Blackcombe in British Columbia. This fun event, styled after the Cheese Rolling Festival at Gloucestershire in England, induces particpants to throw themselves down a hill in pursuit of a wheel of cheese. This year's winners were Joslyn Kent in the women's category and Tyler Belan in the men's. For more, check out the video:

American Cheese Society Competition 2012 :: Northwest Winners

Beecher's Handmade Cheese of Seattle took the top prize in this years American Cheese Society Competition with its lovely Flagsheep cheese! (note: that's not Flagship, the other cheese Beecher's is known for). Flagsheep - photo on the left - is a mixed milk cheese made from cow and sheep's milk and has a lovely, rich buttery flavor. Congratulations to Kurt Dammeier and the crew at Beecher's on the win! It's also worth noting that this is the 3rd time in four years that a cheese from the Pacific Northwest has taken Best in Show at the competition - Rogue Creamery won in both 2009 and 2011 for its Rogue River Blue. Find the complete list of winners here.

Best in Show:   Beecher's Handmade Cheese - Flagsheep (WA)

2nd runner up - Valley Shepherd Crema de Blue  (NJ)

3rd runner up -  Emmi Roth Grand Cru Surchoix (WI)


Beecher's Handmade Cheese (WA)

1st Place - Cheddar Flavored with Peppers - Marco Polo Reserve 1st Place - Original Recipe (sheep's milk or mixed milk) - Flagsheep 3rd Place - Cheddar with Sweet Flavorings - Yule Kase

Black Sheep Creamery (WA)

1st place - Open Category Aged Over 60 days (w/ sheep's milk) - St. Helens

Briar Rose Creamery (OR)

3rd Place - Fresh Goat's Milk Cheese (flavor added) - Chocolate Chèvre Truffles

Mt. Townsend Creamery (WA)

1st Place - Monterey Jack (cow's milk) - New Moon

Mystery Bay Farm (WA)

2nd Place - Fresh Goat Cheese - Fresh chèvre

Ochoa's Queseria (OR)

3rd place - Fresh Cheeses (all milks) - Don Froylan Queso Oaxaca

Rivers Edge Chévre (OR)

3rd Place - Original Recipe (goat's milk) - Beltane 3rd Place - Farmstead Category/Soft (all milks) - Siltcoos

Rogue Creamery (OR)

2nd Place - Blue Veined Cheese with External Rind (cow's milk) - Flora Nelle 1st Place - Rindless Blue Veined (cow's milk) - Oregon Blue

Tillamook County Creamery Association (OR)

1st Place - Colby (cow's milk) 3rd Place - Mature Cheddar Aged Between 24-48 mo. 3rd Place - Flavored Montery Jacks - Hot Habanero Jack 2nd Place - Unsalted Butter (cow's milk)

Willamette Valley Cheese Co. (OR)

3rd Place - Dutch Style (all milks) - Farmstead Gouda 3rd Place - Open Category Aged Over 60 days (with sheep's milk) - Perrydale

Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese (WA)

1st Place - Blue Veined Cheese with External Rind (cow's milk) - Big Boy Blue

[photo courtesy Beecher's Handmade Cheese]

Mozzarella Making Class at Elephant's Deli in Portland August 8, 2012

Elephant's Delicatessen in Portland will present a Mozzarella Making Class on Wednesday August 8, 2012 at 7pm. The course will be led by Claudia Lucero of Urban Cheesecraft. The course is $35/person, which includes all class materials. Attendees will also receive appetizers and a glass of wine, and be able to take home the fresh mozzarella they make in class. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

If you're interested, call the deli at 503-299-6304 to register for the event. The course will be held at Elephant's NW 22nd location in Portland, in the Garden Room.

The Milkman's Daughter: A Cheese Food Truck in Woodinville, Washington

Announcing: a theme for Summer of 2012! Call it the season of the cheese food cart and/or food truck. After announcing the debut of The Cheese Plate in Portland just recently, I've now learned of another mobile cheese operation starting up this week in Woodinville, Washington called The Milkman's Daughter. Founder Inger Herman envisions The Milkman’s Daughter as a unique combination of food truck, cheese shop, and gourmet delicatessen that is a perfect complement to wine. Delivered in a gorgeous vintage 1956 Ford panel truck, Herman plans to sell cheese and savories out of the back of the truck to patrons of Woodinville’s renowned wineries and tasting rooms... a sort of mobile deli for all of your picnic and noshing needs. Whether you want to enjoy your purchases immediately as you taste or bring them home to enjoy later, Herman plans to carry selections that fit every need. In addition, The Milkman’s Daughter is committed to carrying cheeses and savories that support local cheese makers and businesses producing artisan products.

Inger Herman first came up with the idea for a cheese food truck when on an anniversary trip with her husband Steve. Wine enthusiasts, Inger and Steve were on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada (home to artisan cheesemakers Salt Spring Island Cheese Company and Moonstruck Organic Cheese Co.) enjoying a selection of artisan cheeses with their wine when Inger realized that wineries and tasting rooms were lacking artisan cheeses and accompaniments to enhance their customers' experience. As a result, The Milkman’s Daughter came to be.

You can find The Milkman’s Daughter truck today and tomorrow - that's Friday July 6 and Saturday July 7th - at Brian Carter Cellars in Woodinville, Washington. Follow The Milkman's Daughter on Twitter or Facebook to find where it will be next!


The Milkman's Daughter (425) 301-6584 Twitter:  @Luv_Chz

[photo by Jean Johnson Productions]

The Cheese Plate: Portland's New Cheese-Themed Food Cart

Portland's food carts have gotten a lot of press lately. In particular, Dana Bowen's article "Food of the People: Portland's Food Cart Revolution" in Saveur's most recent issue (June/July 2012) has been instrumental in elevating Portland's food cart scene to true foodie status.

As it happens, I recently learned of a new cheese-themed food cart opening soon in Portland. Turns out that Carina Rumrill and husband Nick Dickison, currently sous chef at Portland's Ciao Vito, are the great minds behind the venture. Carina was kind enough to take a few minutes to chat with me about what they're dreaming up for their new baby, The Cheese Plate.

The Cheese Plate will host a soft opening on Last Thursday (June 28th, 2012) at NE 23rd and Alberta in Portland and opens officially on July 6th. Read on to see what's on the menu and more -

How did you come to the idea to do a cheese-themed food cart? And what led you to start a food cart as opposed to a cheese shop or something along those lines?

The idea to focus on cheese came from a real true love of delicious cheese. Every party we have, every picnic, cheese is upfront and we find it so indulgent, special and full of culinary possibilities. For years my husband and I have been making chèvre truffles and people just go nuts for them. So originally we talked about a food cart offering cheese truffles only. But then we quickly realized what we wanted to do was a bit more involved than that.

We love great cheese, but we’re not cheesemongers or cheese experts and don’t have an interest in becoming that at this stage (Although we desperately appreciate the individuals who are!). We love what we love and we listen to what other people recommend. But running a cheese shop wasn’t an interest of ours.

The appeal of the food cart was the relatively low risk involved. Additionally, philosophically we love the idea of food carts. When you go to a food cart, you’re most likely being served by the owner or someone very close to the owner. The owners work so hard to perfect a few products that are from the heart. And the customers get to benefit from wonderful, local inspired food at a really great price.

Both you and your husband come from culinary backgrounds - how do you think that experience will channel into this new venture?

We’re actually a perfect complimentary match for this. I have loads of experience with customer service and the restaurant business…and eating food! I’m a consummate foodie, studied culinary history in college, worked in restaurants most of my life in many positions: server, bartender, wine director, manager, general manager; I love to cook and try new food. And my husband Nick has such a well rounded culinary background. He’s done everything in the kitchen and done it really well. He’s worked in some spectacular restaurants and catering outfits in San Francisco and Portland as line cook, sous chef, head chef, you name it.

I also have quite a bit of managerial experience; restaurant management, non-profit management, and I served as managing editor of a small magazine and have some marketing experience. So the combination between our sets of skills is incredibly complimentary for this type of undertaking.

Your website mentions the celebratory nature of cheese ... say more about the connection you see/feel between cheese and celebration.

I always throw these epic birthday parties every year. My birthday is in August which itself is already a celebratory month. And we would often have the party in some great park: Dolores or Golden Gate Park in San Francisco; or a rose garden here in Portland. And the rule is everyone has to bring their favorite cheese to share. Not just something okay, but something GREAT, their absolute favorite. And I have the best images of people just running around trying this, trying that, “Oh, try this one with a strawberry!” “Try this one with some chocolate!” We just love that.

What are you planning for the vegan side of your menu, since cheese obviously isn't vegan?

Both my husband and I have both spent some portion of adult life being vegan. For years I personally was vegan every other day (that’s all I could commit to!) and then for a few other years I would be vegan for months at a time. It was a bit harder for Nick cooking in restaurants but he too had several stints of being vegan. We really support the choice to be vegan and we want to make sure people who are vegan can enjoy themselves at our cart. We originally wanted to offer a vegan cheese plate made of the best sliceable vegan cheeses we can find (there are some really good cashew cheeses, in particular Dr. Cow which offers a line of aged cashew cheeses). But after tasting the best in what is available for sliceable vegan cheese we decided to pass on this idea.

There are some GREAT “cheesy” vegan recipes made with cashews or white beans or tofu or nutritional yeast and nut/soy milks. There are excellent vegan cream cheeses and sour creams. So we plan to always offer some vegan “cheesy” options. A big feature on our summer menu is our picnic plate, from which you choose items such as “wild mushroom and kale pâté with seaweed caviar,” “melon with ginger sea salt,” “today’s pickles,” etc. to make your own plate. Six of the ten items offered are vegan.

What are some of your favorite cheeses (local or otherwise)?

We’ve fallen totally in love with cheeses from the Pacific Northwest. We have found some absolutely gorgeous cheeses here. In particular, Willapa Hills cheeses out of Washington. They are just on a different level and everything we have tasted from them is like cheese gold. Their “Two-Faced Blue” is sublime. We are completely obsessed with Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue. Willamette Valley’s “French Prairie Brie” is such a delicious and approachable party cheese. There are so many local goat and sheep cheeses that are really excellent.

I’m from Vermont originally so we are partial to cheeses out of Vermont. There’s nothing like Grafton Village cheddars. Their Sage Cheddar is impossibly delicious as are most of their cheddars.  And Willow Hill Farm out of Milton, Vermont. Wow. The best sheep cheeses we have ever had.

We are suckers for Brillat-Savarin or Pierre Robert triple creams from France and we adore Roaring 40s blue cheese from Australia. We also love quite a few Swiss Gruyeres.

Most importantly - when do you open and what's going to be on the menu?

We are going to soft launch at this month’s Last Thursday on Alberta, June 28, 2012. We will have just gotten onto the lot at NE 23rd & Alberta so we won’t be ready to fully open doors, but we plan to offer a couple items from our menu: our fromage fort and our fudge brownie with blue cheese and port wine drizzle.

We will open on July 6 during the day and have a grand opening party in the evening. The 23rd & NE Alberta lot, next to Townshend’s Tea is a new lot with four fantastic carts and a terrific produce stand, so the July 6 opening will also be a big celebration for the entire lot.

As far as the menu: our namesake item is obviously a cheese plate and we believe it is an excellent cheese plate. It will feature three Oregon cheeses, our own fromage fort, three chèvre truffles, a seasonal jam and cart-made crackers for $8. At this point, we plan to exclusively feature Oregon cheeses on our cheese plate. But we are open to adding more geographically diverse cheese plates as we mature and get more feedback from customers about what they want. We really believe in what Oregon has to offer, we’re committed to making a home here and we’re invested in the state tremendously. So focusing on the products and produce of this area in particular and the Pacific Northwest in general is important to us.

A cheese-focused sandwich that reflects the seasons will always be a feature as well. For our summer menu we are offering a Garden Sammich that has chèvre and a delicious romesco sauce, baby beet greens, heirloom tomatoes, shaved red onion, and our cart-made pickles, on Fleur De Lis’s stunning focaccia bread.

We love being creative and pushing ourselves to make most things we carry from scratch, but we also really believe in supporting others. There are some amazing small businesses in Portland offering incredible products and working their butts off doing what they love. So we don’t need to make our own kombucha when we have Brew Dr. around the corner or our own bread when bakeries like Fleur De Lis are in operation down the road or our own kale chips when Pacific Northwest Kale Chips are making the best kale chips we’ve tried. However, we will make plenty ourselves, from the jams, to chutneys, to pickles, to crackers – we’re even making our own goat cheese that we’ll use in many dishes of the summer menu.

We'll also be offering items for take-home and use at parties, picnics, cheese plates, etc. like jarred pickled eggs, pickles, chutneys and jams. Packaged fromage fort, cheese stuffed olives, popcorn & hazelnut party mix and other items from our menu will be available as well.

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The Cheese Plate Food Cart located at NE 23rd and Alberta in Portland (next to Townshend's Tea)

[photo courtesy Carina Rumrill]




Cheese News and Events June 2012

* The Portland Beer and Cheese Fest is coming Sunday June 17th to the Commons Brewery, 1810 SE 10th Ave. in Portland. Tickets are $25, and for that very reasonable price you get to sample up to 10 different beer and cheese pairings. The festival runs from 1-6pm. For more info see their Facebook page, and tickets can be purchased here. * Kurt Timmermeister of Kurtwood Farms on Vashon Island near Seattle will be debuting his Dinah's cheese at Beecher's in New York City Wednesday June 6th. This is a special ticket-only event and attendees will receive a wheel of Dinah's as well as a wine and cheese pairing. Tickets are $40. For more info and to purchase tickets click here.

* Little Brown Farm on Whidbey Island, also in the Puget Sound area, just completed a successful campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds to build a cheese cave and develop cheesemaking classes at their farm. This is the first time I've seen a cheesemaker use a contemporary social media/funding platform like Kickstarter. Very creative and innovative - kudos to Vicki Brown, self styled "Chief Milkmaid" at the farm. Will this be a new trend in artisan cheesemaking? Stay tuned.

* It's June and Farmers Markets everywhere are in full swing. Stop by and say hello to the friendly cheesemakers at your area market and get some great locally produced cheese.

* If you're planning ahead, the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival will return to Whistler, British Columbia on August 18th, 2012. This is the event where people throw themselves down a fairly steep hill chasing a wheel of cheese in the manner of the good folks at Gloucestershire in the UK....good times! Here's some video of last year's event.

* Murray's Cheese recently began rolling out its store-within-a-store concept in partnership with Kroger stores in the Pacific Northwest. In Portland, the Burlingame Fred Meyer (photo above) just debuted the first of three planned Murray's installations; the other two will be at Freddie's Hawthorne and Hollywood locations. In Seattle, Murray's has already debuted at several QFC stores in Seattle including the University Village location, and aims to be open in seven stores by year's end. While I have mixed feelings about this, as the saying goes, "a rising tide floats all boats."

Ultimate Cheese Challenge February 26, 2012 in Portland

Ultimate Cheese ChallengeFebruary 26, 2012 in Portland Choose from 1 of 4  2-hr sessions

Portland cheese aficionados may recall the 101 Cheeses Event of a few years back... Now Steve Jones of Cheese Bar, in partnership with Tabla Mediterranean Bistro presents the Ultimate Cheese Challenge on Sunday February 26th, 2012.

Here's how it works: attendees can choose from several 2 hour sessions throughout the day (see ticket link below for times). Show up at the appointed hour and sample from among Steve's cheese picks (36 of them in all) to your heart's content. Experiment with the variety of wines, beers and ciders available and come up with your favorite pairings. Portland's 33 Books will provide each guest with its 33 Pieces of Cheese journal in which you can record your tasting and pairing impressions. Pace yourself. Sample from the fabulous cured meats provided by Fino in Fondo Salumeria of McMinnville.

Live music will be on tap throughout the day, provided by Stuart Wylen & Jill McArthur as well as Gentle Surprise and Dave.

Tickets are $49 and are available online here.