Archive for tasting notes

Figs with Goat Cheese

Black Mission Figs

One of my favorite summertime pairings is figs with goat cheese. We first had this over at Rob and Maria’s house and try to make it every year. There are a few ways you can make this up and I’ve also done it warmed which is a special kind of delicious.

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Cheese with Tea?

Tea & Cheese

I did a writeup of the cheese and tea pairing workshop that we attended at the Oregon Cheese Festival. Check it out over at Beer + Cheese!

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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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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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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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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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Seastack from Mt. Townsend Creamery

Seastack from Mt. Townsend Creamery

Hubs was out with co-workers and I had the evening to myself plus I had just accomplished a small milestone so I was in the mood to celebrate and in no mood to cook. I’d been saving since last weekend a 6 oz. delectable puck called Seastack from Mt. Townsend Creamery — they are located north of Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula. I got a taste of it at the Ballard Farmer’s Market the day after the cheese fest and instantly opened up the wallet. It’s a soft-ripened cow’s milk rolled in a vegetable ash.

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Making Yogurt Again

Gallon of Whole Milk for Yogurt

I probably won’t post every time I make another batch of yogurt as it’s so easy and I have a feeling that I have a lot of yogurt making in my future. But, for this batch, we took the yogurt making another step further by using a starter from our last batch.

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Cheese Plate

The last of the Willamette Valley Cheese Co. Boerenkaas from cheese festival weekend. Heaven on a plate!

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