Archive for cheese

ACS 2010 Conference

The Space Needle in Cheese

So, who is ACS and what is this conference? The American Cheese Society claims membership across the U.S., Canada and parts of South America. It’s an organizing body that helps the membership stay on top of trends, studies and industry changes. The conference is an annual event that brings together retailers, cheese makers, farmers, distributors, food scientists and more. The conference has a few events and presents topics of interest to these people. On our tour from Portland to Seattle, we had a few cheese enthusiasts. As an enthusiast, the conference is not really geared towards you. However, the topics are fascinating and with my volunteering hours, I was able to make it to a few seminars. I focused on the two topics that were of interest to me most: business and science. Here’s what I attended:

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Three Washington Creameries


To kick off the 2010 American Cheese Society conference, there were three tours originating from points a few hours away from Seattle and visiting various creameries and retail stores along the way. After the Portland Wedge Cheese Festival last year, I got roped into volunteered to help lead the Portland to Seattle tour which left the morning before the festival, arriving in time for the opening keynote address that evening.

Our itinerary had us starting early in the morning in downtown Portland, visiting the Hollywood Whole Foods for snacks and then heading up to three Washington state creameries on the way to Seattle. We picked up cheese along the way and on the last leg, had a cheese tasting with wine and beer on the bus! My partner in crime, Bill Stephenson from DPI Northwest, was very adept at cutting the cheese at the front of the bus as I wandered the aisles with wine and some of the finest Oregon craft beer (graciously donated by the Oregon Brewer’s Guild).

We all had a lot of fun and only lost a little cheese when the bus braked hard and Bill’s cutting board went flying. For my part, I only spilled a little wine and beer on one poor guy who was very good-natured (and luckily wearing navy blue pants!). Here’s just a little wrap-up about the creameries we visited.

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Feta! Feta! Feta! Oy! Oy! Oy!

Holy hiatus, Batman! I have been incredibly busy, haven’t been making cheese and haven’t had time to write about some of the yummy cheeses I’ve been eating. However, lucky me, the ladies of FUCheese proposed a cheesemaking day and we actually made it happen. On the menu this time was something I’ve been wanting to make for over a year: feta!


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Cheese Festival Wrap-up

Ig Vella

Ig Vella keeps an eye on the creamery!

Another year, another visit to Central Point, Oregon, for the Oregon Cheese Guild’s annual cheese festival which coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Rogue Creamery. The tent this year was much bigger and better which seemed to keep the 4,000 cheese lovers from becoming a crush. Like last year, there were all kinds of vendors in addition to cheese: a number of wineries, meats, bread makers, jams, chocolate, beer, soda and tea. There is definitely something for everyone there and I really liked the array of vendors. The festival does a great job of highlighting food purveyors in the Applegate and Rogue Valley — stuff that I don’t see up in Portland. The wine in Southern Oregon is quite good — it’s drier and sunnier down there and you can taste the difference in the kind of grapes they’re producing.

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Steve’s Cheese Bar Review

Beer + Cheese

I’ve started up a new blog (Beer + Cheese) with my beer-loving husband and we’ll be posting about cheese and beer pairings plus other great food pairings over there. Last night we went to Steve Jones’ new Cheese Bar and wrote up a little review.

Check it out!

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Ye Olde Cheese Shoppe

View from Benson Winery

Lake Chelan and vineyard view from Benson Winery

My husband and I went for a long weekend at Lake Chelan in Washington. It’s the shoulder season so the lake was low, the sky overcast and the vast orchards and vineyards bare. However, we had a great time. We did a little cross-country skiing on the last snow of the season at the Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area which luckily was just up high enough that the trails were open. It was literally bare dirt all the way up the hill until, suddenly, snow! Then we availed ourselves of the many wineries in the area and had a fantastic time. Cabernet! Viognier! Gewurztraminer! They grow a huge variety of grapes here and are very excited about the new Columbia Valley AVA designation.

To get there, we drove up near Seattle on I-5 and then over, passing through the little Bavarian town of Leavenworth. Did I say Bavarian? Yes, I did. Sometime in the 1960s in an attempt to save their town from financial ruin, some enterprising folks decided that Leavenworth could become a destination. They invented the Bavarian concept and ran with it — all the places on main street are tarted up like hearty Alpine Volkesmarchers with Willkommen! signs and gingerbread filigree and excellent murals. However, they managed to stay just this side of a total Disneyland spectacle and we were pretty charmed by the ingenuity of it all.

On the way into town, I googled up some recommended places to eat and to see if they had a cheese shop. I wouldn’t be writing this post if they didn’t!

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Onward and Upward for Steve’s Cheese!

Well, the word is out! Steve Jones, the proprietor of Steve’s Cheese here in Portland, is starting a new venture this year. He’ll be moving his cheeses out to Southeast Portland and opening a larger shop where you can buy and sample cheeses, enjoy a small plate, have lunch or dinner and stay into the later hours pairing beer and wine with your favorites. Be still my heart!!

“It was time, we needed room to do more,” says Jones, whose clients include many top Portland restaurants as well as adventurous cheese shoppers. Jones says the spirit of the Cheese Bar is inspired by France’s tabac shops. “Every corner has one,” he says. “All the old men drinking espresso or grappa or having croissant. A tabac is for the neighborhood — they’re social yet convenient locations.”

~ Karen Brooks, The Oregonian

He’s hoping to open up in March and you can be sure I’ll be the first one in line.

The Cheese Bar • 6031 SE Belmont • Whoop! Whoop!

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2009, the Year of Festivals

What a year. What a jerk of a year. I think every year finds people sorting it into a winning year or a losing year. I have a lot to be grateful and thankful for here at the start of 2010 (Twenty-ten! The future!) but there were parts of 2009 which were terribly trying. The bright spots, for me, revolved around cheese and for that I can’t complain.

Cheese Plate

Boerenkaas from Willamette Valley Cheese Co, a 2009 favorite

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2009 Holiday Gift Guide is Up!

Got a cheese lover in your life? We put together just a few gift ideas that we’re sure will hit the mark. Check them out in our 2009 Gift Guide!

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Hearty Winter Cheeseplate

In an effort to expand our general knowledge of cheese we’ve been trying to get together at least monthly to kick back, try a few new cheeses and drink some wine. I encourage everyone to do this.

For December, we went back to Foster & Dobbs and put together a tasty cheeseplate of some European heavyweights.

Foster & Dobbs Cheeseplate

The cheese case at Foster & Dobbs.

The staff there is so helpful and are excellent at listening to your likes and dislikes and recommending something that hits the mark. They’ll also keep track of what cheeses you’ve purchased before! We were all in the mood for some hearty, stinky, battle-the-frigid-winter cheese and were not disappointed in the least.

Our Cheeseplate

Starting with the semi-soft cheese on the bottom left that Linnea is pointing to, we have Le Porteaupre from Belgium. It’s a cow’s milk cheese that is delightfully stinky and is pretty creamy and spreadable – we put it on baguette. It’s a bit on the salty side, tangy and very satisfying. Seems like a good pair with meats.

At the top, is Jura Erguel from Switzerland. A raw cow’s milk, this was firm, stinky and a little sour. Definitely hearty and quite good. Next, clockwise, is Blu di Bufala, a buffalo milk from, of course, Italy! This was a moderate blue with distinct mushroom notes and I wrote down “cardboard” but I don’t mean that in a bad way, there was an earthiness to the rind that was good. This was a stout flavor without being overwhelming.

The large wedge in the center was a big favorite for all of us, the Bastardo del Grappa Nero, another raw cow’s milk from Italy. This one from the Veneto region which is in the Northeastern part of the country, a stone’s throw from Austria. The Bastardo was light, firm, creamy, tangy and lemony. It hit all the right notes for me and I’d get that one again anytime.

We stuck with our Europen theme and rounded that out with the St Cosme Côtes du Rhône syrah. So delicious and a pretty perfect accompaniment to some stick-to-yer-ribs cheeses.

Thanks again Foster & Dobbs! What cheese theme should we explore in January?

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