Cheese News November 2012

@@  Nancy Leson of the Seattle Times wrote a glowing piece recently about Meghan McKenna, cheesemaker at Washington's Mountain Lodge Farm. I recently visited the farm, tucked into the foothills of Mt. Rainier east of Tacoma, and I have to agree, this cheesemaker is one to watch! @@  Christine Hyatt has produced a series of outstanding videos about a number of Oregon's cheesemakers. Her latest covers Liz Alvis of Portland Creamery (see here).

@@ Now open in Portland - Clay Pigeon Winery and its associated wine bar, Cyril's at Clay Pigeon. This project is the brainchild of Sasha Davies and Michael Claypool; Sasha is well known in cheese circles as an expert cheesemonger and author of The Guide to West Coast Cheese and the new The Cheesemaker's Apprentice: An Insider's Guide to the Art and Craft of Homemade Artisan Cheese, among many other things. Michael and Sasha's Cheese by Hand project chronicled their 2006 trip across the country visiting dozens of artisan cheese makers.

@@  Bandon, Oregon used to be famous for its cheese factory. The factory struggled financially though, and in 2002 the Tillamook County Creamery Association purchased the factory, later closing it. Now plans are underway to revive the legacy of cheesemaking on the southern Oregon coast - Face Rock Creamery hopes to be open by Summer 2013.

@@  It's what they call "Cyber Monday," and don't forget that you can also order cheese online as well as iPads and Xboxes... A number of the Pacific Northwest's cheesemakers offer online ordering, including Rogue Creamery, Mt. Townsend CreameryBeecher's Handmade Cheese, Tumalo Farms, and Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese. You can also order cheese online from Oregon State University (the new Beaver Classic) and Washington State University (Cougar Gold plus several other styles). Other cheesemakers, including Little Brown Farm on Whidbey Island in Washington and Briar Rose Creamery in Oregon's wine country, host on-farm stores if you're in their area. Don't forget local cheese for the holidays!

@@  Speaking of Beecher's Handmade Cheese, word is that they're producing a new cow's milk cheese at the New York plant called Dutch Hollow Dulcet. I guess we can't really consider this a new Northwest cheese, since it's made from New York milk in a New York facility...can we?

Little Cheesemaker Surprises

If you frequent farmers markets you have probably already discovered this - many times cheesemakers sell products at farmers markets that you won't find anywhere else. Today's featured surprise is cajeta, or goat's milk caramel, a traditional Mexican confection. Portland Creamery is well known around Portland for its great plain and flavored chevrés, but if you frequent the local markets you'll find this gem of a cajeta. Little Brown Farm, a small goat dairy on Whidbey Island near Seattle, makes a number of styles of goat's milk cheeses but at Seattle area farmers markets you can buy not one but two kinds of cajeta, regular and chocolate, which is a rare sort of double deliciousness.

In order to make cajeta, cheesemakers combine goat's milk with sugar and heat the mixture low and slow until it gets gooey, thick and caramelized. As you might expect, the results are fantastic. Because it's made with milk (unlike straight caramel, which is made with just sugar), cajeta has a depth of flavor and gorgeous richness that takes caramel to the next level. There's also a just a hint of cinnamon. Cajeta is perfect for drizzling over ice cream, fresh chevre, fromage blanc...or just use your imagination. Check each cheesemaker's website for their current market schedule and give this stuff a try!