Steve's Cheese Counter
So. Much. Cheese.
Ancient Heritage Dairy: Hannah's Bridge
Ancient Heritage Dairy is a sheep and cow dairy nestled between the foothills of the Oregon Cascade Mountains and the Willamette Valley. The family-run dairy is just outside of Scio, Oregon, which has been nicknamed the "Covered Bridge Capital" of the west (and who doesn't love a quaint covered bridge?). Hannah's Bridge, not too far from the dairy, is the namesake of this cow/sheep's milk blend. Earthy, smooth and creamy, it really combines the best of both the cow and sheep worlds. Special kudos to this one for winning the Good Food Award in the cheese category this year!
Ancient Heritage Dairy: Valentine
Pure sheep's milk. It's actually named after Ancient Heritage's first ewe, Val (aww). Buttery, rich, and creamy in the center. The bloomy rind gives way to a sweet, sometimes even drippy, center.
Willamette Valley Cheese Co: Perrydale
A special sheep and cow's milk blend from Salem, where the Willamette Valley Cheese Co. farmstead has a herd of 90 Jersey cows. The sheep's milk is from their neighbors at Lookingglass Dairy. Tastes great young, even as young as three months (when when we tried it).
Willamette Valley Cheese Co: Brindisi
Fontina-style cheese made with all cow's milk. It's semi-hard with a fruity aroma and salty, golden flavor. You might notice some of the crystals in the cheese, a natural part of the aging process. Another one that's nice when young (around 6 months) or a little older. Also it earns sentimental points for being named after the cheesemaker's mother's maiden name.
Full Circle Creamery: Medium Cheddar
Before starting Full Circle with his wife in 2010, Brian studied food science and fermentation at Oregon State University. Applying his curd-nerd degree, he makes cheddar and mozzarella from the organic milk of totally grass-fed cows from Noris Dairy in Crabtree, Oregon. This Medium Raw Cheddar would melt wonderfully on a grilled cheese.
La Mariposa: Chubut
Mariano Battro of La Mariposa ("the butterfly") makes cheese inspired by the cheeses of Argentina, where his family still runs a dairy. If you flip back a few pages in the history book, they were influenced by Welsh settlers who migrated to Argentina and founded a creamery in 1885 in the Patagonia province of Chubut, which began making a cheese that's now characteristic of this region. Mariano makes this historic cheese using cow's milk from Lochmead Dairy in Junction City. Aged for about a month in one-pound wheels, it's buttery-rich with a pleasant tartness. It's kind of like eating history (or a foreign film with subtitles): an Oregon cheese made by an Argentinian guy adopting Welsh traditions.
Rogue Creamery: Smokey Blue
Made in southern Oregon's Rogue Valley, this veiny blue is cold-smoked over Oregon-grown hazelnut shells, which adds a rich, nut-roasty flavor. The sweet smokiness nicely complements the caramel notes. "This is Oregon in a cheese." It also reminded me of a campfire.
Rogue Creamery: Echo Mountain
A 20/80 blend of raw goat's and cow's milk. Bold, buttery, earthy. Rogue Creamery initially created this one to help an Oregon dairy use up their extra raw goat's milk. Now Rogue buys all of its neighbor's goat milk now, and all of it goes into this five-pound Echo Mountain wheel. This is a cheese that LOVES beer, especially a sweet Belgian.
Fern's Edge Goat Dairy: Mt Zion
This goat dairy, located in the Cascade foothills, makes Mt Zion with raw goat milk that's been aged 60 to 90 days, and comes in 4-pound wheels. There's a distinctive nuttiness, earthiness, and fruitiness.
Briar Rose Creamery: Brigid's Bender
Briar Rose is a creamery in Dundee, the heart of Oregon wine country, so it's not shocking that some wine can slip into these cheeses. This one is washed in Pinot Noir lees from nearby Ponzi Vineyard.