Another trip to Seattle, another cheese-scouting expedition in the books. As always, a highlight of my annual visit to my parents were my excursions to local cheese shops Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and the Calf & Kid. And I don’t know if it’s a pregnancy thing or what, but I mostly had my eyes on goat cheeses, so I came home with several, along with two pounds of Rainier cherries (can’t beat local cherries at their peak!).

Speaking of Rainier, my first pick comes from the foothills near Mt. Rainier (my mom’s favorite mountain). Glacier, from Mountain Lodge Farm, is a petite round of pasteurized goat cheese that resembles a French crottin. Its snowy-downed rind hides a semi-firm paste that doesn’t get too gooey, regardless of time spent at room temperature. Clean, crumbly and gently creamy, Glacier is a good basic goat cheese for your cheeseboard. Would I seek it out the next time I’m at Beecher’s? Probably not, but more because there are so many other Pacific Northwest cheeses to try than repeat.

However, if I were going to double up on a regional goat cheese, Sunset Bay would be my pick. Perennial C+C favorite Rivers Edge Chèvre makes this kicked-up version of its ash-coated goat cheese by adding a streak of paprika to the center. Colleen got a wedge from her cheese sherpa earlier this spring, and I was lucky enough to snag one, too. The combined zip of the ashy rind and the spiced center really makes Sunset Bay memorable, and check out that luscious creamline. Since I gobbled up my purchase in no time, perhaps my own cheese sherpa (aka Mom) will surprise me with an encore when she next visits.

Both goat cheeses pair wonderfully with a local bubbly – we love our Argyle sparkling wine, but take your pick from many excellent Oregon and Washington wineries. It’s probably too late to get those cherries now, but the last of the stone fruits would make an equally delicious accompaniment.

P.S. The timing of this post is no coincidence. I always have to feature Pacific Northwest cheeses to toast our Oregon-born and -bred gal, Colleen, on her birthday. Have a great one, C!

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If there’s one food I might eat more often than cheese, if only they were available year-round, it would be peaches. Our local donut peaches, in particular, which I have to buy two baskets of at a time to stand a chance of getting any before my curd kids devour them. Of course, I often combine cheese and peaches, in a summery panzanella or by grilling peaches to serve with cool creamy burrata. But I was feeling blue over the news from Uplands, so naturally I turned to blue cheese yesterday and threw together this scrumptious treat.

roasted peaches with blue cheese | cheeseandchampagne.com

I sliced my donut peaches horizontally and gently removed the pit. Donut peaches work best for this, given their flatter shape, but you could use regular peaches if necessary.

Placing them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, I then topped each half with a generous slice or two of blue cheese. Having also had s’mores on the mind lately, I added a generous sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs over each, then roasted in the oven for 5 minutes. Finishing under the broiler, they emerge looking something like a peach crumble, with the added touch of oozy melted blue cheese.

The finishing touch is one of my favorite non-cheese souvenirs from last month’s Vermont trip, smoked maple syrup. It’s pretty smoky, so a light drizzle was all it took to play off the roasted peach and trick the taste buds into thinking these had just come off a campfire.

Oh, and I used Plymouth Big Blue from Plymouth Artisan Cheese (Vermont) — a creamy bold blue. I used one white and one yellow donut peach, and found I preferred the slightly more acidic yellow with the Big Blue.

Smoked Maple Blue Cheese Peaches | CheeseandChampagne.com

If you can’t find smoked maple syrup and want a similar smoky effect, you could grill the peaches flesh-side down, then flip, top with cheese and crumbs, and finish in the oven.

Recipe: Smoked Maple Blue Peaches

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 peaches
  • 4 ounces blue cheese
  • 2 tablespoons crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon smoked maple syrup

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place parchment paper on baking sheet.
  2. Slice peaches horizontally and remove pits. Place each half, skin side down, on baking sheet. Divide cheese among peaches and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Roast for 5 minutes, then switch to broiler for additional 2 minutes, until crumbs are golden.
  3. Remove from oven, drizzle with syrup and serve warm.

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The Shock Heard ‘Round the Cheese World: Rush Creek Reserve no more?

August 15, 2014

There’s a saying in DC, that no good news comes on a Friday afternoon in August. With Congress in recess and journalists on vacation, it’s the best time to announce an unpopular rulemaking or action to less rapid scrutiny. If cheesemaker Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese was hoping for such an effect, he understimated the [...]

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Best of Show 2014: Tarentaise Reserve

August 1, 2014

The cheese Oscars — aka the American Cheese Society Judging & Competition — took place last night and we’re thrilled to announce the 2014 Best of Show winners. As Jill wrote about Tarentaise Reserve several months ago: “I can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t love Tarentaise Reserve. Like many Alpine-style cheeses, it’s made [...]

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The American Cheese Plate 2014

July 31, 2014

As Jill mentioned earlier this week, we’re not at the American Cheese Society conference this year. It’s especially sad as the theme of this year’s event, taking place right now in Sacramento, California, is “Celebrating the American Cheese Plate.” Which, as y’all know, is what we do all year long here on Cheese & Champagne. [...]

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Alemar Cheese Company’s Blue Earth, Minnesota

July 28, 2014

Colleen and I are mourning the fact that neither of us are attending the American Cheese Society Annual Conference this year. Alas, thousands of miles (and dollars) separate us from cheese nirvana in Sacramento. But while we’ll be following along with conference shenanigans via social media this week, I’ll also be consoling myself with a [...]

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Vermont Cheesemakers Festival 2014

July 11, 2014

I came back from CheeseMania NYC — aka the Cheesemonger Invitational + summer Fancy Food Show — and suddenly it was already July. Which means we’re just days away from the sixth annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, held July 20 at Shelburne Farms on the shore of Lake Champlain. The historic coach barn will welcome 40 [...]

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Jacobs & Brichford’s Ameribella, Indiana

July 1, 2014

I was going to post about Ameribella last month, but how could we not feature such a patriotically named cheese on Independence Day week? Especially a cheese as powerful and pungent as this – if the American troops couldn’t banish the British on their own, surely this cheese could have done the job. Despite hailing [...]

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Eataly NY Monger is the new Queen of Cheese #CMI2014

June 30, 2014

Last night in the stinkiest warehouse in Long Island City, NY, the 5th annual Cheesemonger Invitational tested the endurance, skill and showmanship of 48 mongers to declare a new champion. After daytime preliminaries, the event opened for the cheese-loving public to taste the competitors’ “perfect bites.” Judges awarded three best bites with extra credit going [...]

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Let’s Talk About Wood {#SaveOurCheese Update}

June 13, 2014

Thank goodness for Congress. How often do you hear that? Here’s the deal. If you follow us — or Forbes, the New York Times, or NPR — on social media, you probably heard about the seemingly out-of-the-blue FDA declaration late last week that wood was not an acceptable surface on which to age cheese. This [...]

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