The Guide to West Coast Cheese by Sasha Davies

The Guide to West Coast CheeseIn the rapidly expanding genre known as 'cheese books', you've got a lot of choices these days, and the numbers are growing. Clearly cheese is something more and more people are interested in learning about and reading about. But with so many choices, where to start? I'm recommending that you start here, with The Guide to West Coast Cheese by Sasha Davies. Just released by Timber Press, this book is a comprehensive, in-depth guide to the regional cheeses we've all grown to love.

Davies is a veteran of the caves at Murray's and Artisanal in New York as well as the mastermind, along with husband Michael Claypool, of Cheese By Hand, a grand cheese road trip across the US visiting and interviewing cheesemakers along the way, in their native habitats. They turned the interviews into podcasts (available on the Cheese by Hand website or on iTunes) which are invaluable snapshots of the artisan cheesemaking industry in the US.

That's all a long way of saying that the author knows her stuff. So here's the nuts and bolts of the book: organized alphabetically, Davies walks readers through each individual cheese made on the West Coast, starting at Acapella made by Soyoung Scanlan at Andante Dairy in Northern California all the way to Yaquina Bay Pavé made by Pat Morford of Rivers Edge Chévre in Oregon. Each entry describes a bit about the evolution of the particular cheese, explains the flavor profile in depth as well as providing other helpful information like potential wine pairings and similar cheeses for further exploration. Davies' depth of experience and sharply honed palate bring these cheeses to life. If cheese is your candy, then this book is the key to the candy store.

Great guidebooks are fabulous companions; they explain the unexplained and put all of your unanswered questions to rest. If your questions tend to revolve around issues like rind development or goat's milk gouda, or perhaps the ins and outs of West Coast cheddars - or  if you just love great artisan-made cheese and want to learn more about it - then this, my friends, is the book for you.

*Note: Sasha is a friend and colleague in the cheese world so feel free to take my objectivity for what you feel it's worth. Either way, I think this is a great book.

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The Guide to West Coast Cheese: More than 300 Cheeses Handcrafted in California, Oregon, and Washington by Sasha Davies Timber Press 224 pages  $18.95  paperback

Upcoming Cheese Events July/August 2010

Portland Oregon Cheese Events Tonight (July 20th):

Rogue Ales in Portland welcomes esteemed beer writer Fred Eckhardt for his 19th Annual Beer and Cheese pairing and tasting event. Starts at 5:00pm at the Flanders pub; tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Call ahead to reserve: 503-222-5910.

Two great events this Saturday July 24th:

Cascadia Cheese Festival at Madison Market in Seattle. From 11-3pm, stop by and visit cheesemakers from Kurtwood Farms, Larkhaven Farm, Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese and more! Try lots of new and different cheeses and enter to win two tickets to the American Cheese Society's signature event - the Festival of Cheese on August 28th (a $70 value!).

Also this Saturday, Tumalo Farms in Bend, OR will be holding an open house. From 11am-4pm, you can visit the farm, take farm tours and taste a range of great cheeses including the brand new Jewel, a bloomy rinded cheese. Sign up on the website for a $10 guided tasting including small plates using the farm's cheeses, paired with local wines and beers.

And a little foreshadowing of things to come in August:

Don't miss the third Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival in Whistler, BC on August 14th....also coming up soon is the American Cheese Society Conference August 25th-28th in Seattle!

The Farmstead Creamery Advisor by Gianaclis Caldwell

The Farmstead Creamery Advisor, Gianaclis CaldwellEvery once in awhile a book comes along that is so timely, so needed, so... right... that you just have to pause in wonder and appreciation. This is one of those books.

With the rapid growth of the artisan cheesemaking industry and the availability of really, really good local cheese, many are ready to take the step of making their own cheese. And while some people are content to play with making cheese in their kitchen or with their kids, or both, others are taking the cheesemaking idea a step farther - they want to make cheese their livelihood.

I get a lot of questions from enthusiastic folks who are looking to do this. Until now, there was not much I could tell them about how to get started except - talk to a lot of other cheesemakers, go to cheese conferences and educational events and so on. And while that stuff is still true, now we have a roadmap. The Farmstead Creamery Advisor is a comprehensive guide to starting a farm-based cheesemaking business. Hallelujah!

Author Gianaclis Caldwell has been making cheese for years. She started Pholia Farm in Southern Oregon with husband Vern and daughter Amelia several years ago; now they're known nationally for their great cheeses, crafted from the milk of their herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats. I mention this background to emphasize that she knows what she's talking about; the Caldwells built their cheesemaking plant from the ground up and are very familiar with the ins and outs (not to mention the ups and downs) of the entire process.

Caldwell does not shy away from both the joys or the hardships of making cheese; her honesty about the entire process is engaging and refreshing. She covers everything - and I do mean everything - from the business end (financing and business plans) to permitting to equipment, sanitation and floor plans. The book is loaded with stories and anecdotes from cheesemakers across the country so in effect, it's like having a conversation with all of them. You'll learn about the million things you hadn't thought of about the process as well as glean ideas for doing it your own way.

If you are thinking of starting a cheesemaking business - even if you are just fantasizing about it -  you need this book. And while the book may serve as a catalyst to success or a much needed reality check, either way, I think this book will have served its purpose.

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The Farmstead Creamery Advisor: The Complete Guide to Building and Running a Small, Farm-Based Cheese Business by Gianaclis Caldwell Chelsea Green $29.95  256 pages  paperback

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.

New in Oregon: Goldin Artisan Goat Cheese

Carine Goldin | Goldin Artisan CheeseCarine Goldin's cheese memories trace back to her hometown of Mouxy in the Savoie region of northern France. Her grandmother, a true cheese connoisseur, is the genius responsible for introducing the young Carine to the wonders of great cheese - taking her along to farms and cheese shops all over the region, buying and sampling all of the beautiful cheese treasures available along the way. Now Carine Goldin is bringing a bit of her native France to the Pacific Northwest by way of her own hand made artisan cheeses. Goldin attended the University of Oregon and worked for Adidas in Portland for a few years before transitioning out of the corporate world, purchasing five acres near Molalla and starting a farm.  She's currently caring for about 20 Alpine goats (12 milking) and was licensed to make cheese in June of this year. Like many artisan cheesemakers, she started out making cheese informally at home. She says that in the early days so little information was available about making cheese that she ended up spending many hours searching French websites for information and advice. No doubt the ability to speak French is a great help when learning to make cheese! Goldin also took the WSU cheesemaking course to perfect her skills before turning pro.

I had a chance to try some of Goldin's first cheeses a few weeks ago. They're absolutely lovely and I can't wait to try more! I'm particularly fond of a couple of her washed rind cheeses, the Certoux and the Cascadian Frechette, each packed with tangy, salty cheese goodness. Equally as good is her Tomme de Sawtell, a cheese she says comes very close to the Tomme de Savoie she remembers growing up. Her passion for the craft is evident in her cheeses, which she has painstakingly nurtured - French in style but with Northwest terroir.

Goldin Artisan Goat Cheese will soon be available at New Seasons and Foster and Dobbs in Portland, or contact Carine Goldin through her website for more information about purchasing cheese.

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Goldin Artisan Goat Cheese Molalla, Oregon 503-810-1954