Red Rock Cottage Cheese: An Oregon Original


Red Rock Cottage Cheese, Oregon Cottage Cheese advertisement from The Oregonian Feb. 2, 1924

Cottage cheese - it's one of those things most people take for granted these days. But did you know that the first commercial production of cottage cheese in the United States occurred in Oregon?

Cottage cheese (also referred to as farmer's cheese or pot cheese in earlier days) is made using skim milk, which is a by-product of the butter making process. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, skim milk was usually fed to cattle or dumped - but enterprising, thrifty folks used the skim milk to make cheese. This resulting cheese was often dressed with a little extra milk or cream, creating the product we know as 'cottage cheese' today.

Red Rock Cottage Cheese Co. started in Tigard, Oregon (now a Portland suburb) in 1915. The early story is a familiar one: Harry West's mother started out making cottage cheese in her kitchen. The company started small, with West taking his mother's product from store to store daily. From there, business took off rapidly. Red Rock eventually acquired dairies and plants in Washington and California, then merged with Kraft in 1929. For a time the Tigard plant made Philadelphia Cream Cheese before finally closing in the 1950s.

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.

* * * *

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

Rivers Edge Chevre Open House Sunday August 23, 2009

Rivers Edge Chevre | Logsden OR Rivers Edge Chevre will hold its annual Open House on Sunday August 23rd from 12-5PM. If you've ever had a hankering to visit a cheesemaker, this is the one you want to go see! Pat Morford and daughters Astraea and Spring are making some of the Pacific Northwest's best goat's milk cheeses and this is your chance to sample and purchase them directly from the farm. This is also a perfect opportunity to check out their recent ACS award winning cheeses: Astraea, an aged goat's milk cheese rubbed with cinnamon and Up in Smoke, the popular smoked chevre wrapped in maple leaves. Madrone Mountain Vineyards and Daisy Creek Vineyards will be on hand pouring wine to accompany the cheeses, along with Nye Beach Gallery and Fine Wines. Local artists Harold Lofton of Glass Anvil Studio and Marylyn Del Pino will also be in attendance. Also available: produce from Liz and Paul Kevek of Kevek Farms in Logsden. I will be there too, signing books and generally enjoying myself!

For more information and directions see the Rivers Edge website. Rivers Edge is located just outside of Newport, Oregon, about 2 1/2 hours from Portland.

* * * * * * * * * *

Rivers Edge Chevre 6315 Logsden Rd. Logsden, Oregon 541-444-1362

Team Oregon Takes Top Cheesemonger Award

Cheese Merchandising Contest, American Cheese Society Steve Jones (left) and Tom Van Voorhees

Chefs have Top Chef and Iron Chef. Fashion designers have Project Runway. This event was something like those competitions, but for cheesemongers - those skilled, knowledgeable folks behind the counter at your favorite cheese shop. At the first annual Cheese Merchandising contest at last week's American Cheese Society conference in Austin, Texas, Team Oregon prevailed over three other teams with accomplished cheesemongers Steve Jones of the venerable Steve's Cheese in Portland and Tom Van Voorhees of Rogue Creamery (and a veteran of Murray's in New York) leading the way.

Modeled after Caseus (held annually in Italy with teams from all over the world competing), the match consisted of several segments. First, competing teams were asked to set up a cheese case from scratch. Judges reviewed and scored each display based on several criteria, including aesthetic appeal. Next, one team member was judged on cutting and wrapping technique while the other was judged on sales technique, with judges posing demanding real world hypotheticals like, "What cheese should I get for my dinner party?" and "I'm double parked, I"m double parked!" - a heckling that required the cheesemonger to keep his/her cool in addition to showing an impressive depth and breadth of cheese knowledge. No mean feat.

Finally, teams were asked to represent a specific cheese to the judging panel. Team Oregon riffed on Rivers Edge Sunset Bay to a world class group of judges including cheese professionals Ray Bair, proprietor of Cheese Plus in San Francisco, food and cheese writer Janet Fletcher and French affineur Herve Mons.

Now back to reality and his own shop, Steve Jones is still a little giddy from the adventure. While he's thrilled to have won, he says the experience was tough. "The only other time I've ever been that nervous was when my wife gave birth," he says. Though it was a demanding test of skill and perseverance, Steve and Tom prevailed to the end, showing the cheesemaking world that Oregon should not be underestimated.

[photo courtesy Sebbie Buhler - Rogue Ales]

New in Oregon: Fairview Farm Dairy

Fairview Farm Goat CheeseFairview Farm is a small artisan creamery located in Dallas, Oregon, just outside of Salem. Laurie and Terry Carlson moved to Dallas several years ago from Cheney, Washington where Laurie taught history at Eastern Washington University. Since the move, they've been working hard to establish their cheesemaking operation and were rewarded with the state's official stamp of approval in early April of this year. Cheesemaking was the culmination of what Laurie describes as a sea change in the Carlsons' attitudes about food. "Essentially we rediscovered food and changed our eating habits completely." They'd never kept goats before, but fell in love with them after answering a Craigslist the Carlsons can call themselves 'goat people,' as they now care for a thriving herd of about twenty nubian and alpine goats. Laurie learned to make cheese and her burgeoning cheesemaking skills proved to be quite good - she took second and third place in the amateur category at the 2008 American Dairy Goat Association cheese competition. The Carlsons will specialize in raw milk aged cheeses that Laurie describes as "cheeses that you can take in your lunchbox." Great image, no?

Laurie also has a thriving career as a historian and author of twenty books; she teaches part time at Western Oregon University in addition to making cheese. She put her research skills to work uncovering the history of cheesemaking in the Dallas area, in the process discovering that the area was renowned in the nineteenth century for cheese. “Cynthia Ann Applegate (wife of Jesse Applegate of Applegate Trail fame) was actually famous in the Salem/Dallas area for her cheeses,” Laurie says. “She made several types of cheese using herbs like sage.” The Carlsons plan to take the concept of ‘local’ to a new level by reinventing the aged raw milk cheeses of decades past.

Fairview Farm's current cheese selections include Sweet Dreams, a basket molded round cheese with a natural rind; Cynthian, named after Cynthia Ann Applegate, with herbs; and Cascadia, a round tomme style cheese. Look for them at Steve's Cheese , Elephant's, Abbie & Oliver's in McMinnville and at the OHSU Farmer's market and more outlets coming soon!

[photo courtesy Laurie Carlson]



Fairview Farm Dairy Laurie and Terry Carlson 2340 SW Fairview Dallas, OR  97338 503-623-4744