As you might expect, there was no lack of cheese at meals during the American Cheese Society Conference. Breakfast, in particular, featured a glut of luscious, creamy specimens to spread on a croissant or roll. But one lunch session, sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Oregon, came with a special bonus – a box full of Oregon cheeses for one lucky person at each table to take home. And since there were only four people at our lunch table, Colleen and I lucked out. Of course, we dug into the cheese right there at the table, but we also saved enough to take home and savor. Happily, I got custody of the wedge of Ancient Heritage Dairy’s Hannah and have been snacking on it ever since.
I didn’t happen upon any cheese from Ancient Heritage Dairy, a family-owned sheep dairy located in central Oregon, during my Oregon vacation last fall, and that’s a pity because I found a lot to like in Hannah. Made from a mixture of raw cow’s and sheep’s milk, this cheese brings to life the “land of milk and honey” that I heard so much about in Sunday school as a kid. Except, of course, that in this case that land is Oregon and not biblical Israel. Hannah’s creamy, honey-kissed flavor is like a warm bath for the tongue. Though not as nutty as a gouda, you still get a whiff of toasted nuts with each swallow. This is a cheese made for mac and cheese – pure milky comfort in a firm, fragrant package.
Hannah is study enough that it can match with a red wine – pick a Merlot or Pinot Noir from Oregon, of course – but gentle enough to match with a crisp, non-oaky white as well. But if you do mix it into a mac, go casual with a brisk cider or a brown ale. And cross your fingers you’ll able to find Hannah again before another ACS conference comes and goes.
P.S. It’s only fitting that we feature an Oregon cheese on the birthday of our native Oregonian. Happy birthday, Colleen! I don’t have to tell you twice to pick up a cheesy treat for your special day.