Mt. Townsend Creamery at Pike Place Market in Seattle

Mt. Townsend Pike PlaceThis is not exactly new news - but I recently stopped by the Mt. Townsend Creamery shop at Pike Place Market in Seattle (it's been there for almost a year and a half now). The installation is an outpost of Washington's Mt. Townsend Creamery, which is based in Pt. Townsend, Washington about two hours to the north and west of Seattle. The cute shop is located at the heart of the market, right near Pike Place Fish (you probably know this as home to the fish-throwing guys). It's a great spot for sales, right in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle that is the market experience. As you might expect, you can purchase all of your favorite Mt. Townsend Creamery cheeses there including Seastack, Cirrus and Off Kilter (washed in Pike Brewing's Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale) as well as selected goodies like crackers and honey. When I was there, they were also featuring cheese samplers for $5.

The Mt. Townsend shop adds to what has become quite a respectable cheese presence at the market: Beecher's Handmade Cheese operates a busy urban creamery a block to the north, and there are several other cheese shops in the market, including DeLaurenti's and Quality Cheese. Though the Seattle Cheese Festival is no more, I'm happy to report that you can still find plenty of good cheese at Pike Place Market.

Seattle Cheese Festival Calls it Quits

Seattle Cheese FestivalThe Seattle Cheese Festival is no more. In an announcement posted on the festival website, Pat McCarthy of DeLaurenti's said "Over the last couple of years the Festival has become kind of like Yogi Berra’s quote 'Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.' Attendance by cheese makers and distributors has fallen off sharply." Ironically, the Seattle Cheese Festival was in many ways a victim of its own success. While I can't think of any better place to hold a festival of any kind than at the Pike Place Market, the very popularity and accessibility of the Market proved to be the Festival's undoing. Literally thousands of people flocked to the Seattle Cheese Festival, turning the experience of attending into a harrowing experience of battling crowds rather than enjoying and/or learning about cheese. Few small local cheesemakers would even consider going to the festival . . . can you imagine sampling out your products for free to 35,000 people? In the end, even the big distributors like Peterson's and DPI that had come to dominate the festival started backing out.

I'm sorry to see the Seattle Cheese Festival go, but Washington's cheese enthusiasts still have something to look forward to:  the Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival, which is slated to hold its second annual event in October of 2013.

Beecher's Handmade Cheese to Expand to NYC in 2011


Beechers Handmade Cheese Seattle

It's official - Beecher's Handmade Cheese will be opening a new store in New York City in 2011. The concept will be similar to the current operation at Seattle's Pike Place Market (pictured above) - a combination cheese factory, cheese shop and food marketplace. According to an article in the Seattle Times, Kurt Dammeier, Beecher's proprietor, sees the huge population base of Manhattan as a prime marketing opportunity for Beecher's cheeses as well as its other products (such as the frozen macaroni and cheese, crackers and etc.). I've no doubt that even jaded New Yorkers will be captivated by the open viewing format and the play-by-play cheesemaking action - there's just something about it that draws you in and makes you want to eat (and buy) cheese.

Look for the shop to open in February of 2011. See the full article in the Seattle Times here.