Another great Pacific Northwest cheesemaker is Oregon’s River’s Edge Chevre. We’ve carried their Valsetz, Humbug Mountain, and Up in Smoke, but I’d never seen the Jupiter’s Moon until the Festival of Cheese
I mean, just look at this cheese!
This batch was a little firmer than I would like, but the cheese is still good enough to get mentioned here. It’s like a firm, domestic Cabri Ariègeois! (basically a goat milk version of the heavily washed Vacherin Mont D’or/ Winnimere/Forsterkase style). Big, complex, earthy flavor: richness, tang, grassiness, and a little smokiness. I can’t wait to try this again under better conditions.
Hidden Springs Feta I have raved about Brenda’s Ocooch Mountain previously, but I hadn’t actually tried her feta. I don’t know why. She was even making it when I visited her farm last year. Let that be a lesson, even if the fancy and unique catch the eye first, there is a reason some styles of cheese are so popular.
While walking around the judging room I saw the sheep feta winner and thought, “you know, I’ve never had a good American sheep feta.” Oh man, this cheese – which I later found out was the Hidden Springs Feta – was everything you want in a feta: creamy, rich, tangy, and salty. I wanted it with bread! I wanted it in salad! I wanted more!
Here are some of her sheep (because they are cuter than a picture of white cubes in a plastic tub):
And here’s Brenda, the cheesemaker, last year at her farm:
yeah, I never did get time to write about that visit.
I am proud to call the Pure Luck Dairy folks friends. (I guess I have a weakness for Texas hippies since I am dating one…) They make some of the best goat cheese in the country. I just wished I lived close enough to buy it! I would recommend all of it, but I was reminded at this conference that their Hopelessly Blue is a stunning cheese.
I took an awful picture of it:
(I hope this is the worst cheese photo I ever post here. In my defense, I was only taking the photo so I could look up the cheese afterwards to see what it was. Next year I won’t slack so much on the photos.)
Hopelessly Blue is my favorite domestic goat blue. It’s got that goat tang, but a richness that other goat cheeses often don’t have. And they didn’t skimp on the Penicillium. Many blue cheeses seem to be ashamed of being blue, treating it like a flavoring or afterthought. In fact, I’d probably say this cheese is hopelessly devoted to blue* except that the way the cheese biz is going, someone has probably already copyrighted that phrase. If you are anywhere near Texas, find this cheese.
Finally, finally finally, Dear Readers, I have gotten around to mentioning my favorite new (to me) cheeses from the ACS conference. Blame my bad teeth. After a couple of crowns and a root canal, all I want to do is watch crappy TV instead of write anything. When I finally did get around to this, it longer than I intended so I will dole them out one at a time this week. In no particular order, here we go:
1. Prairie Breeze The not-so-nice side of me was almost upset that Prairie Breeze won best in its category and much acclaim. I had already tasted it and ordered 800 lbs planning to be first on my block and all that… Seriously though, I am happy for the father and son cheesemakers who I got to meet briefly at the conference. Basically it’s a big, sweet, sharp cheddar – that new cheddar flavor profile that everyone seems to love. I love it too. Every piece comes with a sticker that reads, “Made with milk from small family farms” — local Amish farm milk that you know is rBGH-free.
Oh look, here it is:
I am a big Deborah Madison fan. I’ve lived in collective vegetarian houses for much of my adult life and her “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” was like the vegetarian Joy of Cooking for me. It was my first post-Moosewood cook book and it truly taught me how to cook some very good food.
So, imagine my surprise to see her blog entry the other day. Wow. I’m feeling pretty honored right now.