Welcome back to Take Five, a new Eat Beat feature that offers up five must-try culinary finds from food and drink experts around town. Next up, things get a little cheesey.
As if we needed another reason to love October: it's American Cheese Month! And although Wisconsin and California often get billed as America’s cheese capitols, the Pacific Northwest pulls its weight in the dairy world.
You can sample some of the Northwest's finest on Saturday, October 5 at The Wedge, Portland's annual celebration of all things cheese. But even if you can't make the festival, you can still enjoy the local cheese bounty.
We sat down with Cheese Bar’s Steve Jones, Portland’s resident cheese whiz and card-carrying best cheese monger in the world (as crowned at 2011's Annual Cheesemonger Invitational), to get his top five picks for the region’s cheeses. His handpicked plate has a mix of colors and textures, and includes cow, sheep, and goat milk cheeses—which means whether you like your cheese dry, creamy, or just plain stinky, there’s sure to be something for everyone to love.
1. ‘Adelle’ from Ancient Heritage Dairy
“I picked the little bloomy-rinded Adelle from Ancient Heritage, which is a cow and sheep blend from out in Madras. It’s just ooey-gooey, creamy, sexy, everybody loves it.”
2. ‘Hillis Peak’ from Pholia Farm
“This is a goat’s cheese made with Nigerian dwarf goat milk, and it’s rubbed in pimenton [Spanish paprika]. Pholia Farm is one of the smallest creameries in America, and they’re totally off the grid—so, very Oregon, a do-it-yourself cheese.”
3. ‘Glacier Blue’ from Cascadia Creamery
“Cascadia is in Trout Lake, Washington up on the shore there in Mt. Adams. They’re a pretty new creamery, only a couple years old. This is a raw organic cow’s milk blue that reminds us a lot of stilton—really just young, and lots of roasted nut flavors. It’s a really approachable, fantastic blue for everyone.”
4. ‘Mopsy’s Best’ from Black Sheep Creamery
“The Mopsy’s Best, from Black Sheep Creamery from up in Adna, Washington, is kind of their flagship sheep’s milk cheese. Their cheeses all have a real kind of an earthy flavor; this one’s got a lot of black walnut, very rustic, nice and dry, very different texturally from the others.”
5. ‘Lorelei’ from Briar Rose Creamery
“The Lorelei, which is a washed rind goats milk, is washed with beer from Fire Mountain Brew House, which is one of [Briar Rose’s] neighbors. When they wash the rind of it, it gives it that stinky, bacon-fatty richness that people love in washed-rind cheese.”