Archive for cheese

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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Amaltheia Dairy, Montana!

What? I can’t quite hear you. Did you say, “more goats”? I aim to please….

Mona Lisa Smile

Don’t you think goats have Mona Lisa smiles?

* * *

I was out in Bozeman visiting my family and the first thing I did when I got into town was stop in the local Food Co-op and scope out the cheese selection. I bought a bunch of good stuff to share (Humboldt Fog which my brothers loved, a puck of French Prairie brie from Willamette Valley and some dependable 12-month manchego). Then I hunted around for something from Montana. The only thing I could find was the mysteriously named Montana Organic Chevre.

After we feasted on all this good cheese and decided that the chevre was truly awesome, I started poking around online to figure out who was behind this yummy chevre. As it turns out, right outside Bozeman, Montana, in the cute little town of Belgrade, you can find one of Montana’s few cheesemakers. I sent them an email asking for a tour and heard back almost immediately that I could come on out.

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Visiting Vancouver & San Juans

The Mister and I have been trying to plan a big adventure vacation for a long while now. We were flirting with barging in France (who wouldn’t?) but I got put off by how much of our vacation savings would just go toward airfare. The other thing I’ve had on my mind for years is kayaking in the San Juan Islands. So we took a couple lessens here in Portland from the Portland Kayak Company, one out on the Willamette River just toodling around and learning how to paddle and one in a pool learning to get ourselves back in our boats should we flip them over. Handy trick, no?

We booked a guided weekend tour with Outdoor Odysseys on San Juan Island and had a great time. Our guide, Kaitlin, was totally wonderful and the other couple on our trip happened to be Portlanders and also winemakers! We loved chatting with them about outdoor adventures and the making of beer, wine & cheese. We paddled out from San Juan State Park and across the channel to Stuart Island which was our base camp where we slept in tents and paddled during the day. Total, we paddled over 30 miles on the 3-day trip and it was tiring but amazing. We saw harbor seals, porpoises, stellar sea lions, jellyfish and lots of kelp. The coastline of the islands is gorgeous and the weather was great.

Kayaks @ Reid Harbor

Our kayaks at the ready in Reid Harbor on Stuart Island

So… kayaking, blah, blah, blah. This is a cheese blog! To make a short story long, it’s a good thing we did all that kayaking because we were then more than happy (and hungry) to partake in the local cheese scene!

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Claudia Lucero & Urban Cheesecraft

I was at Foster & Dobbs three times this week. I may have a problem. Last night they were having a meeting of the occasional DIY Cheesemakers group with a demonstration by Claudia from Urban Cheesecraft. She has started her own line of cheesemaking kits with products all sourced on the west coast. The whole kickoff for the FUCheese cheesemaking adventure was the Ricki Carroll mozzarella kit that Nicole got for Christmas two years ago. Ricki Carroll has great products but her supplies are in New England so you have to order and wait. It’s great to have a local option and Claudia’s kits are super adorable!

mozzarellaKit

Claudia did a mozzarella demonstration for us and she was absolutely charming and very clear. She has a great, relaxed attitude about cheesemaking — you can’t mess it up! While cheesemaking is a science it is very often an inexact science so it helps to have a cheerful can-do attitude for when things go a bit sideways. I picked up some great tips from her and look forward to sharing them when Nicole and I do our own mozzarella demo for some friends next month — eek!

Claudia is planning to be at the Wedge Festival (be there!) with her kits and may also do a ricotta demonstration on the main stage. Kits are such a great way to jump in to cheesemaking, I highly recommend picking one up. You can find out on her website which stores in Oregon are selling them or order from her etsy shop. They would make such great gifts!

Also, if you want to get notified when Foster & Dobbs do their next DIY cheesemakers meeting or to hear about any of their other many events, sign up for their mailing list!

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Foster & Dobbs Cheese Shop

Foster & Dobbs Cheese Plate

Our cheese plate, click to see which cheeses are which.

I’ve been waxing poetic about Foster & Dobbs to everyone I know lately as I really think they have a great thing going. This little cheese shop in Northeast Portland has an excellent case of cheese as well as everything you need to go with it. I got together with the FUCheese ladies last week to celebrate National Goat Cheese Month with a plate from Foster & Dobbs. You can buy cheese to go or sit down and eat it there. They helped us choose an array of goat cheeses plus some charcuterie and a side of almonds, olives and figs. We shared a bottle of chilled pinot gris and took the whole thing out to enjoy on their patio. Fantastic!

They also have a ton of amazing jams, chocolates, caramels, etc., and their menu also includes some amazing sandwiches (goat cheese and chocolate panini? yes, i will!). If you are in the area and haven’t checked them out now is a great time — their summer hours keep them open till 8 pm through September 30, the perfect way to unwind the day. Oh, I want to go there right now!

Foster & Dobbs
2518 NE 15th Avenue
Portland, OR 97212
website: www.fosteranddobbs.com

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Fred Eckhardt & Rogue – 10 cheeses, 10 beers

Samplers Killed

Okay, not to beat a drum but we went to another cheese and beer tasting event last night and it was EPIC. Going in knowing that the menu would include 10 pairings, I was a bit intimidated. Luckily, both the beers and cheeses were more on the mellow side, lighter beers without super complex flavors and cheeses that were all unique but none that really knocked your palette out. We also sampled Rogue’s new whiskey which was pretty darn good as whiskey goes. I could definitely see taking it on a camping trip which is my metric for tasty whiskey.

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Cheese Plus Beer

So, the Mister and I are big beer fans around here. He has been homebrewing for a couple years and I swear that he has never made a bad beer. There has been one or two strange beers but nothing undrinkable. In fact, most of them have been highly drinkable! When I started getting interested in making cheese I felt like there was some kind of crossover potential there. They both relate to the science of applied heat. They both relate to farm life — beer is made from grains, cows eat grains and grasses. But, obviously, these are tenuous connections. The light came on, though, when I started reading about pairing cheese with beer.

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Cottage Fire

It’s taken me awhile to get around to this post, but a wee bit back in time – January 2009 – those of us at fucheese got together and had our first 2009 cheese event.  Our purpose was to get back into cheese making after the hiatus brought on by the holidays, plan for the upcoming year, and show off holiday cheese swag.

There were a number of minor setbacks, even prior to the actual cheese making, mostly due to my ill planning and failure to read the recipe all the way through.  (All things I made resolutions to correct this year.)  Since we didn’t have the starter needed for Ricki Carroll’s recipe, we used one from The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrel-Kingsley.  While a good time was had by all, the cottage cheese could have benefited from closer attention.  Cheese making, I’m coming to realize, is really all about attention to detail and attentive monitoring.  Not necessarily skills that I’ve honed in the kitchen as I’m more of a throw it all in a pot and see what happens kind of cook.

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Beer & Cheese Tasting at Saraveza

Our friends Dave (BS Brewing) and Sarah (of FU Cheese) won tickets to a beer and cheese tasting at Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern. After promising them our first born, they invited us to go with them. It was so worth it!

Saraveza is a bottle shop and tavern owned by Sarah Pederson. They had their grand opening last fall, 2008. It’s in a very cute little building off North Killingsworth and they keep their for-sale beers in these great vintage coolers. They’re the kind of coolers that you might open a restaurant around since they are so adorable. The bar has a nice, casual vibe and we tried a couple of their pasties (all good) and a sausage plate (yum!). One of our favorite bartenders from the Green Dragon works here, too, so that was a nice surprise.

Steve’s Cheese is located in the Square Deal Wine Shop on 23rd and Thurman and is run by Steve Jones. He’s a young, very bearded guy who has a clear passion for cheese and cheesemakers. He was able to answer our many, many questions with enthusiasm and point us toward some great Northwest creameries.
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Cheese plate for one?

Don’t mind if I do….

Cheese Plate for 1

So, I came across those La Panzanella fancy crackers which I bought way back when I visited the Rogue Creamery and realized that if I didn’t eat them soon they were probably going to get all stale. I also wanted to give another chance to our farmhouse cheddar. What better excuse to make up a little cheese plate for one?

I went by Whole Foods after work and picked up some Morbier (bottom) (intrigued by Nicole’s earlier tasting notes on Estrella Creamery’s version of the same), a Mobay (left) and some Manchego (top). I packed them away in my bike panniers and made the trek home fueled by thoughts of cheese.

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