Washington Cheese News

Black Sheep Creamery Featured in Seattle Times Article

Yesterday’s Seattle Times had an article about a farm family from Snohomish County, Washington (near Seattle) helping out the Gregorys of Black Sheep Creamery. You can read the article here.

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Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy on the Move

Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy is relocating from its current home on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula to a farm near Buena Vista, Colorado. Washington will lose a fine cheesemaker but Coloradans can look forward to lots of great cheese from Dawn Jump and her family. For more information see their web site here.

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New Cheesemaker Larkhaven Farm

Welcome to new cheesemakers Larkhaven Farm, located near Tonasket in Okanogan County near the Canadian border. They’re making goat and sheep’s milk cheeses: a Manchego style cheese, a Feta and Rosa Rugosa, a mold ripened Corsican style cheese.

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Twin Oaks Creamery Update

Here’s some more information about Twin Oaks Creamery, a small cheesemaker located near Black Sheep Creamery in the area hard hit by recent flooding. According to this article in the Tacoma News Tribune, Heather and Gary Howell lost 500 pounds of cheese, all of their goats except for one, and suffered damage to their house and property.

Donations Now Being Accepted to Benefit Black Sheep Creamery

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Seattle has set up a bank account to benefit Brad and Meg Gregory of Black Sheep Creamery, who were hard hit by flooding earlier this month. Details are as follows:

Bank of America Account #11164308  – Gregory Family Assistance Fund

Donations can be made at any Bank of America branch nationwide. Be sure to provide the account number, as not all branches across the country may be able to access the account by name.

You can also mail checks made out to "Gregory Family Assistance Fund" directly to Beecher’s at the following address:

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
104 Pike St.
Suite 200
Seattle, WA  98101
attn: Ellen Gerber

Beecher’s will also be accepting donations at its retail location in Seattle.

For information and photos of the flooding and recovery efforts at Black Sheep Creamery, see their website. For additional information about other relief efforts and volunteer opportunities in the state of Washington, see the Tilth Producers of Washington website.

note: donations are not tax deductible, but still go to a good cause!

NW Cheesemaker Fundraising Options & Events

Below is a list of donation options for those interested in helping out with flood relief efforts in the Northwest. Most funds are designated for farms generally and would include cheesemakers under that umbrella. Plans for a cheesemaker-specific benefit bank account are in the works – I’ll provide details when available.

In Portland, we are in the early stages of organizing a fundraising event to benefit affected cheesemakers. The event, "Cheese for a Good Cause," will be held on Friday February 1, 2008. Watch this website for further details.

* DeLaurenti’s in Seattle is collecting funds for affected cheesemakers at the registers. DeLaurenti’s will match all funds collected.

* Madison Market in Seattle is collecting funds at their registers for farms identified as needing support by Washington Tilth.

* Olympia Food Coop in Olympia, Washington has started a Farm Relief Fund that will benefit farmers and cheesemakers that the coop supports. You can donate at checkouts at both locations.

* Olympia Farmer’s Market fund benefits farmers who attend the market in Olympia, Washington. Donations accepted online.

* Seattle Neighborhood Farmer’s Market Alliance Good Farmer Fund  - these folks had the foresight to create an ongoing fund specifically designed to aid farmers in need. See their web site for details.

* Washington Farm Bureau Farm Relief Fund has already collected $35,000 for the benefit of Washington’s farmers affected by the storms.

* Washington Tilth list of donation options including some you may not have thought of, like the American Red Cross.

It’s worth pointing out that many are also helping out by providing volunteer time and energy, or offering animals to re-populate affected herds.

If you know of other fundraising efforts or opportunties leave a comment or email me at pnwcheese-at-yahoo-dot-com.

NW Cheesemaker Fundraising Update

I’ve been gathering information over the past few days about various fundraising efforts being initiated to help Northwest cheesemakers and dairy farmers impacted by the recent storms. I’ll be compiling all of this information in one reference guide that I will post by the end of this week.

If you have any information on fundraising plans please let me know ASAP – either leave a comment to this post below, or email me at pnwcheese -at – yahoo -dot-com.

Thanks to everyone who has expressed concern and/or offered to help out.

2007 Tillamook Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Contest Finals

Six contestants battled today for an enviable prize – $5,000, a whole lot of cheese, and the thrill of winning the third annual Tillamook Mac & Cheese Recipe Contest. Local radio personalities Dr. Doug and Skippy emceed (keeping the crowd distracted) as contestants prepared, plated and served their recipes to thirteen judges including Oregonian columnists Sara Perry and Gerry Frank, local food writer Nancy Rommelmann and Christine Hyatt, Portland’s own Cheese Chick.

The recipes were diverse and definitely NOT your average, everyday Mac n’ Cheese. Contestants combined M+C with a variety of interesting accompaniments like smoked salmon, shrimp, chicken and seafood. I didn’t get to try them all, but the ones I was able to sample were impressive. Portland regional finalist Veronica Vichit-Vadakan, who made my pesonal favorite version with butternut squash and sage, even brought her own cheering section to the event. For more about each regional finalist (there were 6 in all) and recipes, see the 2007 contest page here.

Eventual winner Lorie Roach, a finalist last year, took the prize with her Jumbo Shell Pasta Stuffed with Baby White Cheddar and Chicken Macaroni – or as she described it, "pasta stuffed with pasta" – using one of my favorite of the Tillamook varieties, the aged white cheddar. Lorie ascended to the finals from the Texas regional event, though she hails from Mississippi. She goes home with the cash, the sash and the glory this year – will you be next?

.:. 2007 Curds & Whey Festival – Vancouver BC .:.

Local Artisan CheesesThis past weekend the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, BC threw its third annual Curds & Whey Festival. Five artisan cheesemakers from across the province were in attendance and provided visitors with samples of a great variety of cheeses made locally. The festival was small but lively, and vendors throughout the market participated in the festivities with features and specials designed around the cheese theme.

This year’s artisan cheese vendors:

Little Qualicum Cheeseworks
Salt Spring Island Cheese Co.
Goat’s Pride Dairy
Moonstruck Organic Cheeses
Jerseyland Organics

Chef Gary Wong conducted cooking demonstrations throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. Click here to view a sample of some of his recipes.

Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy

Fern's Edge Goat DairyNestled in the hills above Dexter Lake southeast of Eugene, Oregon lies a goat farm with a national reputation that’s recently started testing the waters of the artisan cheese world.

Cheesemaker and Pennsylvania native Andhi Reyna is a midwife by training who migrated to Oregon a decade ago to practice her craft. One thing led to another (more about that below) and she recently gave up her midwifery practice entirely to make cheese full time. “I’d always been working toward the idea of having goats and living off the land, being independent in that way,” she says.

Enter the Mt. Zion goat herd. The fact that the herd has a name should tell you something: this is not an ordinary bunch of goats. Andhi’s mother-in-law Shari Reyna has spent 30+ years developing the herd’s bloodlines and selling breeding and show stock across the nation. But over time, the family came to realize that goat breeding wasn’t the profit center that it used to be. “We saw that the farm just wasn’t going to be able to sustain itself in the long term,” says Andhi. And so, like many small family farms before them, they looked at alternative ways to sustain the operation. The choice was obvious – channel the dairy potential of this exceptional herd into a milk and cheesemaking operation.

After several years spent constructing the milking and cheesemaking facility, Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy was finally “born” with Andhi the midwife – and now mother – of a farmstead cheesemaking operation. (She’s also the mother of two actual children, Isaac and Dar). Starting last year, Andhi has made mostly fresh chevres, both plain and flavored with goodies like pesto, dried chantrelles and dill. Her fresh pesto chevre was an award winner at this year’s American Dairy Goat Association Competition. Next year she’ll expand into making other types of cheese such as soft-ripened and aged cheeses. “It’s a step by step process building a cheese business,” she says, “but that’s what I really want to do – make raw milk aged cheeses.” Fern’s Edge will also start selling raw goat’s milk sometime next year (legal in Oregon, though selling raw cow’s milk is not) once the required bottling equipment is in place.

Fern's Edge Goat Dairy

Morning mist rolls over the hills at Fern's Edge Goat Dairy

Andhi Reyna is strongly committed to sustainable practices, so while she’s making cheese, she’s also attuned to the welfare of the land and her animals. “We’re biodynamically diverse,” she says. “It’s hard, though, for a dairy or animal farm to actually become certified Biodynamic because of the requirements.” (It’s a much more complex process than organic certification). “But we are well known locally, and people in the area know this place and what’s going on with the land.” In an era where “sustainable” has become the buzzword of choice, this kind of resolute dedication to wholisitc practices sets Fern’s Edge apart from other similar operations.

Fern’s Edge Dairy is poised to make a big splash on the Oregon cheese scene. I think their fresh chevre is some of the best I’ve had in the entire Northwest – and I don’t say that lightly – it’s bright, slightly tart and gloriously creamy. For now, Andhi Reyna’s cheeses are mostly available in the Eugene area, though Portland area aficionados should check for it at Portland area Market of Choice stores (Burlingame or West Linn) where it’s available occasionally. I have no doubt that we’ll be hearing a lot more about Andhi and her cheese over the next few years as Fern’s Edge grows and I, for one, am looking forward to it!

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Fern's Edge Goat DairyFern’s Edge Goat Dairy
39456 Hwy 58
Lowell, Oregon  97452
541-937-2093
email:  dairy-at-fernsedgedairy -dot-com


Where to find: available in Western Oregon at Market of Choice stores in the Eugene and Portland area;  Sundance and Capella Market in Eugene, and the Lane County Farmer’s Market during the season.

Steve’s Cheese 2nd Anniversary Party Sunday Nov. 11th

Steve's Cheese Portland ORSteve’s Cheese in Portland will be celebrating two years of  selling great cheese and artisan products this Sunday Nov. 11th from 1-5PM. Join proprietor Steve Jones and his crew along with cheese, honey and chocolate producers and more at what promises to be a fun celebration of great food and great cheese. Steve will also be hosting Christine Hyatt, Oregon’s own Cheese Chick, who will show video from her new Cheese TV series.

While you’re there, meet makers, producers and representatives from:

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Steve’s Cheese
Inside Square Deal Wines
2321 NW Thurman
Portland, OR   97210
503-222-6014

American Dairy Goat Association 2007 Competition Results

American Dairy Goat AssociationNorthwest cheesemakers of the goat persuasion, particularly those from Oregon, took home twelve awards at this year’s American Dairy Goat Association competition held in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Overall Best in Show honors were awarded to Redwood Hill California Crottin in the Commercial competition and Mackenzie Creek Chevre Brulee in the Amateur division. See below for a complete list of regional winners. Look for these outstanding goat’s milk cheeses at a retailer near you!

Fresh Chevre

First PlaceRivers Edge Chevre (Logsden, OR)

Fresh Flavored Chevre

Second PlaceSilver Falls Creamery Chipotle Chevre (Aumsville, OR)

Third PlaceFern’s Edge Goat Dairy Pesto Chevre (Lowell, OR)

Soft Ripened Flavored Cheese

Third PlaceRivers Edge Chevre Sunset Bay

Soft Ripened – Other

Second Place – Rivers Edge Chevre Humbug Mountain

American Originals

Second Place - Pholia Farm Elk Mountain (Rogue River, OR)

American Made, International Style

Second Place- Pholia Farm Hillis Peak
Third PlaceRivers Edge Chevre Mayor of Nye Beach

Feta

Third Place - Gothberg Farms Feta (Bow, WA)

Smoked

First Place - Rivers Edge Up in Smoke

Spreads

Second Place - Silver Falls Creamery Rosemary Peppercorn Chevre
Third PlaceSilver Falls Creamery Jalapeno

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