Archive for dairy

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?

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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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Yogurt! It’s not going to make itself, you know?

I can’t say that yogurt was at the top of my list when I set out on this cheesemaking adventure (oh, sweet mancheeeegooooo….) but I am glad that I tried it. It is fairly simple to make and easy to source the ingredients. Everything can come straight from your happy local grocer.

Yogurt ingredients

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Fresh Mint Ice Cream

No, this isn’t a cheese post but I figure all dairy is game. If you’re looking for something truly delectable to do with all that mint growing in your garden (or overflowing from your neighbor’s garden) then this is the recipe for you. It’s reprinted at Orangette from The Perfect Scoop (scroll down past the cute shoes) and is a simply perfect flavor for summer. I made it last weekend for a BBQ with my neighbors it is, hands-down, my favorite ice cream I’ve made this summer.

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The Cheese Platter

My family has been huge fans of the cheese platter for years now.  It started when I was like 12 or 14 when my mom made a wrapped brie appetizer for the holidays.  Not that cheese wasn’t a huge part of my life prior to this event.  I am from the Midwest where dairy has its own sacred place in the food lexicon, but this was the first time that I’d experienced anything outside of the hard block of yellow or white cheese.  Since then, there have been numerous cheese platters.  Some stand out more than others and while the cheese is definitely the highlight, it also has to do with who you are sharing it with and what you choose to go along with it. 

Early this spring my sister and her boyfriend came down for a visit from Seattle and we decided to check out Steve’s Cheese for the first time.  Don’t ask me why it took me so long to get over there, but it was years wasted in my opinion.  The cheese and cured meats selection was wide and diverse and the service was exceptionally helpful and knowledgeable.  The cheese platter we ended up with – largely made up of recommendations – was delightful.  I don’t know what other word to use.  We paired the cheese and meat with some bread and vegetables that we had picked up at the farmer’s market so we were truly fulfilling the northwest food geek stereotype.

We had three different cheeses all from the pacific northwest.  They are all well known cheese makers and I’ve run into these cheeses since then at cheese tastings and counters around town.  That said all three are really delicious representations of pacific northwest cheese.  The Willamette Valley Cheese’s Boerenkass (a raw cow milk cheese) was mild, but really full of flavor and went really well with the bread and Fra Mani Sopressata. 

This was the first time that I had tasted Rivers Edge Chevre’s Up in Smoke (goat milk).  This was unbelievably fantastic.  I love goat cheese and I’ve never tasted a goat cheese like this – rich, smoky, creamy.  I’ve had this over and over again since this first tasting.  I liked eating it wrapped in the Iowa applewood smoked durroc ham we got from Steve’s Cheese.

The final cheese was from Estrella Family Creamery.  I first had their cheese after visiting the Ballard farmer’s market so this was not a new cheese maker for us, but it was the first time I tasted their Guapier (cow milk).  This cheese has a layer of ash running through the center separating the morning and evening milking.  There really was a stark difference in taste between the two sides and it made for a fun tasting.  It was a really delicious cheese that was really best – in my opinion – eaten by itself.

This was one of those really great cheese experiences.  The company was fun and casual and into the cheese. And the cheese lived up to the moment with great flavors.

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Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon

Creamery Signage

Thom and I did a weekend trip down to Southern Oregon, and stopped at the Rogue Creamery in Central Point. The Creamery has been making cheeses since the 1930s and is now very well-known for its blue cheeses, especially the Rogue River Blue which has won a number of awards and is wrapped in grape leaves and aged for 1 year.

Central Point is a small town in the Rogue River Valley in a part of Oregon that is generally sunnier and warmer than where we live in Portland. Along the Rogue River Valley Highway, also known as Highway 99 and known in Central Point as Front Street, is a very unassuming concrete building which houses the Creamery cheese shop and part of their manufacturing facility.

The Rogue Creamery

The cozy little cheese shop has samples of all their signature cheeses. I tried several of their cheddars, a few of their blues and also some of their flavored cheddars including lavendar, garlic and chocolate stout. I was really taken with that last one and we picked up some of that.

Rogue Creamery Cheesecase

They also have a cheese case with cheeses from around the region and the very knowledgeable and friendly cheese ladies gave us samples of anything we wanted. From the cheese case we ended up selecting PondHopper, a cheese from Tumalo Farms in Bend which is a hard, aged goat cheese, unique for the hops that are added while steeping the curds. We also picked up Truffle Tremor from Cypress Grove, another goat cheese (I have a problem) — creamy and infused with the taste of truffles.

In looking at all the cheeses, chatting with the ladies, choosing some pear wine and some crackers and debating the merits of purchasing an insulated bag (we did), we totally forgot to swing back around and pick up some butter!

Butter!

Doesn’t that look like the most wonderful butter in the whole world? I guess we’ll have to go back.

Check out a few more photos of the cheese shop on my flickr. You will find Rogue Creamery cheeses in reputable cheese shops all over Oregon, at Whole Foods, New Seasons, etc. and on their website which also has some great photos of their cheesemaking process.

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