Today let's talk about this soft-ripened cow's milk cheese from the folks at Mt. Townsend Creamery in Port Townsend, WA. Made in the style of the French Chaource, Seastack is dusted lightly with ash and sea salt before ripening; the ash creates the dark inner striping effect and contributes to the slightly tart and toasted flavor. This is a really lovely, creamy and velvety cheese that's got a little bit of a fluffy texture (reminds me of Humboldt Fog, though Seastack is a bit denser). My sample was riper and runnier toward the edges, as you can see in the photo...remember, though, that the texture of this cheese will vary a bit depending on how old it is at the time you purchase it. The taste is slightly sharp, salty and tart with strong toasted nut and porcini mushroom notes that soften at the finish. On the outside, the rind is very mild - not strong or bitter as with some cheeses - and adds a bit of texture and bluey hints to the overall taste. Overall, a wonderful example of some of the great artisan cheese being made in the Pacific Northwest!
In general, soft-ripened cheeses like this pair well with lighter wines such as Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc, but Seastack has the backbone to stand up to a wider range of wines. Experiment with Viognier and even Pinot Noir or Merlot to see what works for you. I also find that salty, toasty cheeses like this pair very favorably with beer - I happened to have a Full Sail IPA in the refrigerator and it went very well with the Seastack.
Mt. Townsend Creamery products are fairly widely available throughout the Northwest.