Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cheese - It's All About Family

I’m behind on my email trail through Washington Creameries. Never fear, I will showcase the remaining creameries/farms before our event weekend.

Right now I’m in Seattle. I’ve just now caught up on email and am in my favorite restaurant working on this email to you. Yes, I’ve picked my wine and am sipping and writing…

There really is a bigger story here. As I spend time on the websites of each creamery and write about their cheeses served at the winery this weekend…. I lose track of time as I read their family stories, the farm history, the next generation… And, I really get pulled in when they talk about the animals… sheep, cows, goats and newborns! It’s all about FAMILY.

American values, hard work. REAL, healthy foods are produced on these small, farmstead family farms. So let me get on my soap box… Shopping at your local farmers’ market is the #1 way to support local farms, farmers and get the highest quality, best tasting food for your family!

Golden Glen Creamery- Family Tradition, Family Farming, Family Values Their website is like sitting with your grandparents, paging through the picture albums and hearing the stories about family you’ve never met. You know it’s your heritage that has been handed down to carry on.

Golden Glen Creamery is a family owned and operated dairy and creamery found in the heart of the beautiful and bountiful Skagit Valley in Washington State.

We’re featuring their Garlic and Dill Cheddar paired with our Dungeness Red Lemberger. This cheese says "summer"! The flavor of fresh dill with a hint of crushed garlic makes this cheese perfect for anything you can think to do with it.

Our Lemberger has its own spice and the pairing is fantastic. Lemberger is a wine that loves a bit of chill on it… summer, cool reds, cool cheese!!! It can't get any better than that.

Cheers, Kathy

A Working Girl who is eating way too much cheese Olympic Cellars On-Line Store

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gobbly-Gook or Wine & Cheese Pairing Advice

The Marriage of Wine & Cheese

The old school of thought about cheese and wine pairing used to be simple: Eat Cheese with Red Wine. This is about as old & out of date as “drink white wine with fish/poultry and red wine with beef”.

There are, though, some general rules that are worth following to help create successful cheese and wine pairings, and more --- to create evocative, sensual memories of the perfect food experience.

Cheeses and wines should be paired either because they share similar characteristics or because they have contrasting but complementary characteristics... why a marriage works!

Basically, wine is made up of acid, alcohol, sugar and tannins. The variations in each of these components plus production style & aging gives each wine its unique flavor. Cheese share some of the same components, including acid, but is also made up of protein and fat. The concentration of these components contribute to the final flavor of cheese and leads to the successful or unsuccessful marriage with different wines.

Right now if you didn’t read further… what I just wrote in the last paragraph
is more like Gobbley-Gook then wine-cheese pairing advice

The following guidelines made sense to me and you know I’m challenged in the kitchen. And, just like at my tasting bar, every person’s palate is different. That’s why tasting events like our NW Wine & Cheese Tour has so much to offer… a variety of artisan cheeses at each boutique winery all paired with different hand-crafted wines. We’re very excited that Lynn Keenan, Washington cheese expert and owner of Port Angeles’ Renaissance, will be in our cellar talking about the artisan cheeses, their farms and creameries.

Light young cheeses with light white wines. Farmer’s, some Feta, Fromage blanc with Chenin Blanc, Müller-Thurgau from Olympic Cellars released this summer

High-acid, younger cheese with high-acid white wines (Chevre, fresh goat cheese, with sauvignon blanc)

Low-acid, more aged cheeses with low-acid white wines (aged cows’ milk cheese with oak aged Chardonnay). Samish Bay Cheese Company, organic cheddar, aged 18 months served with Olympic Cellars new release, 2009 Chardonnay at NW Wine & Cheese Tour

Stronger cheeses with stronger wines (aged cheddar with Syrah) Pleasant Valley Dairy Farm’s Gouda with Fine Herbs and Olympic Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon at NW Wine & Cheese Tour

Strong salty cheeses with dessert wines or fortified wines (blue cheese with late-harvest Riesling) Willapa Hills Farm Pluvius and Big Boy Blue served with Olympic Cellars My Sweet Syrah at NW Wine & Cheese Tour

Creamy cheeses or those with a high fat and protein content will soften tannins in red wine (Camembert or creamier-style blue cheese with a big, bold, in your face Cabernet) My all time favorite, Mt. Townsend Cirrus with Olympic Cellars Syrah and Cab Franc

Again, in general, sweeter white wines will work with cheese more often than dry white wines do. Consider Dungeness White Riesling and Working Girl White (Chardonnay & Riesling)

Cheers, Kathy
A Working Girl at Olympic Cellars
Olympic Cellars On-Line Store

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese – Singing the Blues!

Northwest Wine and Cheese Tour April 16-17

Willapa Hills Farm... one of our featured creameries

I found the video “I Am An Artisan Cheesemaker".

Willapa Hills is represented. Each cheesemaker describes “artisan” in just a few words, then combined with beautiful pictures… their story is told. You will fall in love with cheese all over again.

Willipa Farm, Doty WA

Three generations of the family are involved in raising dairy sheep and making farmstead and artisan cheese on their farm in Southwest Washington State.

Owners, Stephen and Amy Turnbull, have a passion for blue sheep and cow milk cheese and their emerging family of cheeses reflects their love of blue! Many years of hard work have turned their century old historic barn into a fully functioning milk parlor and state-of-the-art creamery. Inside the barn on the banks of the Chehalis River you will find a flurry of activity from sunrise to sunset.

Twice a day from late February through early September the flock of Lacaune-East Friesian cross dairy ewes amble into the barn and gift the Turnbull’s with some of the freshest and creamiest milk you can imagine.

Their sheep are raised on pasture without exposure to pesticides, commercial fertilizers or growth hormones. Feed is free of animal byproducts and grass hay is locally grown and nourished by the 70+ inches of rainfall that keeps the eastern edge of the Willapa Hills lush and green.

We chose two of their cheeses for our Reserve Tasting: Pluvius and Big Boy Blue and our port style “My Sweet Syrah”. I’ve served Pluvius twice for private wine tasting groups. Of all the cheeses I’ve served, all my guests go back to this cheese… scraping every last morsel off the plate. It is just that good!

Pluvius (named for the Greek God of Rain) is Willapa Hills’ only natural rind aged cheese that is not Blue. Pluvius has road appeal due to its texture and mild flavor profile and has quickly developed a following since its introduction at farmers markets in the spring and summer of 2010.

Pluvius is often sent to market quite young. Firm in texture with subtle nutty notes, it grows in complexity as it ages. Over time, the natural rind begins to ripen the outer edge of the cheese, creating a deliciously soft creamy layer that increases over time.