– Oregon cheeses are some of the best in the country. Here’s a cheese plate with the stars. –
When most people think of Oregon, they think of damp, cloudy weather. When it comes to cheesemaking, though, you couldn’t ask for a better climate. The west coast’s moderate winter temperatures, combined with Oregon’s nearly 60-inches of rain a year, make for perfect grass-growing conditions. And since lush, green grasses equal happy grazing animals… I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this.
Oregon is home to many superlative cheesemakers, and while I was visiting Portland a few weeks ago, I got to sample some few truly impressive Oregon cheeses thanks to Steve Jones and his boy Collin at Cheese Bar. (If you’re in town, I highly recommend a stop in.) If you weren’t aware that Oregon is a state to be reckoned with on the dairy front, let me shake you from your slumber with these extra-special cheeses from The Beaver State. This cheese plate is many things: diverse, local, sweet, salty, tangy, full of heart.
– Sunset Bay, a simply incredible Oregon cheese –
River’s Edge Chevré – Sunset Bay: This is, hands down, one of the most gorgeous cheeses I’ve ever seen. With its luminous vein of smoked paprika running through the middle, Sunset Bay looks like a 3-D sunset painted with a broad palette of culinary pigments. It’s smoky, of course, thanks to the paprika, but this cheese is so much more than just a wash of watercolors and pungent pimenton. Rich and fatty with a not-too-capricious personality, the inner paste is firm and grassy with notes of prosciutto. As if that weren’t enough, Sunset Bay’s creamline is a heavenly exercise in salty adoration, with a solid helping of yeasty, buttery smoothness that glides across your tongue like a warm pat of butter on a freshly baked baguette. Magnificent. It belongs on your cheese plate.
– Glacier Blue, a wonderful coastal treat. –
Cascadia Creamery – Glacier Blue: Meaty! Fatty! Salty! Mild! Glacier Blue is all of these, and more. Blue, but not in-yo-face blue, this is a good beginner cheese for those that don’t look favorably upon Penicillium. Glacier Blue is a salt-lovers dream, wrapping your palate in a blanket of brine so delectable you may have to quell the urge to face-plant into your wedge, mouth open, hoping to sweep this luscious Washington cheese over as many of your tastebuds as humanly possible. A touch sweet with a little grassy joy in every bite, Glacier Blue is a Pacific Northwest winner.
– Let me introduce you to my friend, Hannah. –
Ancient Heritage Dairy – Hannah: Firm and compelling, Hannah is mild mannered at first, adding a little more to the conversation only after a few seconds pause on your tongue. Salty and bready, like fresh-baked olive oil crackers, Hannah’s nuttiness makes it a contender on any cheese plate. I picked up a hint of hazelnuts, while my friend instead sensed pine nuts. Regardless of what family of nutty flavor you’re loyal to, you’ll love this cheese’s initial nibble and subsequently more complex little kisses.
– Big Rock Blue, California’s most polite little bleu. –
Central Coast Creamery – This one isn’t from Oregon, but it was a great addition to my cheese plate – and I bought it in Oregon, so… hey. Big Rock Blue: This is a bigger, more assertive blue than Glacier Blue above, but Big Rock isn’t going to knock you out of your seat with a blue glove across the face. No, its manners are too refined for such a gauche display. Here you’ll find a parade of intertwining flavors, starting with piquant and buttery, them spicy and sweet, and finally salty with a hint of bitter, punchy shebang. This Oregon cheese finishes meaty without the lingering bite of blue’s signature peppery sensation, making you wonder if you really experienced the beginning of the show. Was it all a dream? There’s only one way to find out: another bite.
– Cloud Cap is aptly named – it’s an angel here on Earth. How cheesy! *groan* –
Cascadia Creamery – Cloud Cap: Another dairy treat from Cascadia Creamery, Cloud Cap is an exemplary cow’s milk cheese that touts bovine’s best qualities with few of its negative personality traits. Firm and reminiscent of a mild cheddar, there’s not so much fat here to cause an oil slick, but you’ll find just enough to cavort across your tongue in a short, impromptu moonwalk. Meaty and salty, yeasty and giving a brief illusion of well-tended chicken stock, you’ll find lots to love here without overwhelming your palate. Even the rind’s pleasant nuttiness takes no liberties with your tastebuds, skipping merrily away, opening the door for a much-anticipated additional bite.
– Fin! –
Something Special - An Epic Cheese Plate
- River’s Edge Chevré Sunset Bay
- Cascadia Creamery – Glacier Blue
- Ancient Heritage Dairy – Hannah
- Central Coast Creamery – Big Rock Blue
- Cascadia Creamery - Cloud Cap
- Crispy, mild-tasting crackers, such as Rustic Bakery's Olive Oil and Sel Gris crackers
- Remove the cheeses from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for at least one hour. Set out on a plate, labeling each, allowing at least 2-inches of space between them to allow for scoops and chopping.
- Serve crackers in a separate bowl. Don't forget to provide cheese knives. Butter knives will work in a pinch.
This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.