Tasting Notes: Quillisascut Trio

Quillisascut Cheese Recently when I was in Seattle I picked up several goat cheeses from Washington's Quillisascut Cheese Co.:  from left to right in the photo are the Quillisascut Curado, Lavender Curado and UFO.

Rick and Lora Lee Misterly, owners and cheesemakers at Quillisascut, are two of the early pioneers of Northwest cheesemaking. They started making goat cheese commercially in 1987, around the same time as other 'first wave' West Coast cheesemakers like Jennifer Bice of Redwood Hill Farm (1988) and Laura Chenel (1979). Today they also operate a farm school, teaching chefs, food professionals and others about sustainable food and farming. (View a set of class photos by Spokane chef David Blaine here or a post here about his recent experiences. Blaine also mentions a forthcoming book about the farm).

Let's start with the UFO... if you've ever seen the UFO you will understand the name - it's a round, wobbly-looking greyish, mold ripened cheese 12 inches in diameter or so that does indeed look as if it dropped out of the sky. In the past I've sampled a version of the UFO that has been aged a bit longer (up to four months) and the texture was firmer, almost grate-able. I really like this younger version, which is soft like fudge and an inviting creamy white on the inside. The flavor is complex, a little spicy and almost musky with a blue cheese bite against a slightly sweet background.

The Curado is a Spanish style cheese ('curado' means cured or aged) that's salted during the aging process, which takes about two months. Salt acts as a preservative and contributes to the Curado's slightly rough, granular texture. At first the flavor is itself on the salty side, but soon takes on nice fruity/lemony notes. The Lavender Curado is speckled lightly throughout with - you guessed it - lavender buds that add just the right subtle background without being too flowery. Quillisascut also makes a smoked version of the Curado.

Quillisascut Cheeses are available in Western Washington at Whole Foods, PCC, Madison Market and Beecher's. They're also available in the Spokane area and at Eastern Washington farmer's markets during the season. Unfortunately, I've not seen their cheeses for sale in Oregon.

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Quillisascut Cheese Co. 2409 Pleasant Valley Rd. Rice, WA 99167 (509) 738-2011