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kalanyx-webFrom pasture to pasteurization, cheese making requires dedication, skill and passion. Considered a science and an art, it’s something Kala Nyx finds both beautiful and endearing. “I work with amazing products from all over the world – It’s pretty romantic, really,” says the Cheese Merchandiser. Kala learns about many types of cheeses, how they’re made and their history. And there are many emotional connections created in the process, she says.

140725KalaNyxCheeseBlog2Used by ancient Egyptians as currency and Native Americans to preserve fruit, honey has a wide range of applications, including being used for thousands of years as a base for folk medicinal recipes.

Its long history of being sought after and harvested is ever-present today, with people installing bee hives in their back yards to encourage the growth of honey bee populations and to produce more balance in the local environment, as well as more honey in local markets.

How do people use it? Some fellow Oregonians consume this sweet stuff daily for immunotherapy against allergens, embracing the theory that eating local honey produced by close-to-home can build up, in tiny amounts, the pollen spores within the body, reducing or eliminating allergic reactions people have to the same pollen during allergy seasons.

While I love the history and the fact that honey has lots of healthful, healing and environmental benefits – the truth is, I just want to eat it! I love it in my coffee, drizzled over fresh nectarine slices to top a wheel of Brie, and mixed with spicy, seedy mustard to glaze chicken. Sometimes, I even like a straight spoonful as an afternoon lift. The range of flavor intensity is as stunning to me as the color of a piece of honeycomb paired with great cheese and charcuterie. And it’s the perfect way to top cool yogurt on a hot day.

At your Market Cheese Shops, we are proud to feature honey from around the corner and around the world. Come by and taste a few and bring a little sweetness to your summer!
It’s that time again, when Oregonians walk outside, rub our eyes and behold that fireball in the sky called the sun! Along with a slowing in the rain, more sunshine and beautiful blooming trees, it’s also the time of year when calves, kids and lambs appear in the fields.

If you want to behold all that cuteness, check out the pictures of the quintuplets that Terry and Laurie Carlson at Fairview Farm Dairy in Dallas, Oregon, posted to their website. Besides being adorable and entertaining to watch as they frolic and play in the fields, this means an increase in milk and more local, fresh cheese!

At our Ashland store, spring has sprung as chèvre from Mama Terra Micro Creamery has arrived at our Market Cheese Shop. This wonderful soft cheese from Williams, Oregon, comes in unique flavors like Nettle and Bee Pollen. It’s perfect for topping your favorite crackers or broiling with olives on rustic bread. Come in and see all of the exciting additions, as we complete the remodel of our Ashland location this month!

Our stores in Eugene, Corvallis and West Linn are proud to feature fantastic fresh cheeses from Black Sheep Creamery in Adna, Washinton; Fern’s Edge chèvre and goat milk from Lowell, Oregon; and from Fairview Farm Dairy: delicious chèvre, Skyr, milk, drinkable yogurt and ice cream (found in our frozen foods aisle); as well as other Northwest favorites, such Fraga Farm and Portland Creamery cheeses.

I hope this time of year finds you out enjoying the weather and fresh cheeses from our beautiful region.
With the holidays fast approaching, I wanted to let you know about some of the exciting new things at your Market of Choice Cheese Shop that are excellent for entertaining and make great gifts.

131211blacktrufflebutterRegalis Truffle Delights
I have been waiting for more than a year to add Regalis White Truffle Olive Oil ($30.99, 250ml) to our lineup of choices. We also have Regalis Black Truffle Balsamic Glaze ($45.99, 250ml) and Wisconsin Truffle Butter ($10.29, 3.5oz) at your Cheese Shop. This company was founded by Ian Purkayastha, who began importing Italian truffles to the U.S. when he was just 15 years old. Ian has taken sunny California olive oil and creamy Wisconsin butter and blended them with his beloved truffles. I was lucky enough to sample these products and immediately took them to the stores for the Cheese Stewards to try. Everyone was excited, and I literally had to pry the Balsamic Glaze out of the hands of a few of them. I’ve already given a bottle of the balsamic glaze to a foodie friend of mine for his upcoming dinner party.

131211cheesebasketBrooklyn Slate Cheese Boards
When Sean Tice and Kristy Hadeka took a trip to New York to visit a slate quarry owned by Kristy’s relatives, they discovered what would become a burgeoning business. Available in two sizes, Brooklyn Slate Cheese Boards make the perfect contrasting surface for cheese. There’s even chalk provided, so you can write the name of the cheese on the slate. What a fun party idea! (10”x14” ($29.99) and 7”x12”($26.99)

33 Pieces of Cheese Booklets
These helpful little booklets make a wonderful stocking stuffer for your favorite cheese lover! Priced at $4.59 ea, this pocket-size booklet for logging tastings is easy to tuck away in a purse or pocket for emergency cheese-tasting and documentation. This is one in a series of tasting booklets that hail from Portland, Oregon.

Oregon Favorites
With friends and family coming to visit and celebrate this holiday season, here are just a few lovely local products that you can share with your visitors:
jelly1• Rose City Pepperhead’s Pepperjellies – Sweet and spicy pepper jellies made in Portland and available in a variety of flavors.
• Rogue Creamery – Making cheese in Central Point for more than 80 years, this local gem offers a variety of wonderful cheeses.
• Willamette Valley Cheese Company – This family-owned creamery close to Salem, Oregon, produces wonderful cows’ milk farmstead cheeses
• Oregon Growers & Shippers – Fantastic fruit spreads from the Hood River.  
• Market of Choice Charcuterie – Did you know that Market of Choice has its own Charcuterie line? We have proudly produced several flavors of pâtés, a decadent Duck Rillette and Duck Confit.
• Duck Pâté – Tangy green peppercorns and orange zest add zip and zing to seasoned ground duck. This pork-free pâté is perfect for entertaining. Perfect for dinner with roasted veggies!
• Northwest Cherry & Blue Pâté – A delectable blend of seasoned ground pork with brandy, Northwest Bing cherries, hazelnuts and Rogue Creamery blue cheese. This country-style pâté shines as an appetizer and is rich enough to pair with Port wine.
131211dukersdills Duck Leg Confit – Salt-cured and slow-cooked in garlic, shallots, Chablis wine, duck fat and herbs. Simply pan fry until crisp, shred and serve over salad greens. Delish!
• Duker’s Dills – Our favorite pickles from Portland, these spicy delights include Duker’s Dills, Carrots and Green Cherry Tomatoes and tangy Rose’s Rosemary Lemon Beans and Asparagus. Bring some pucker to your Bloody Mary or cheese plates with these pickled pleasures.

From the Market of Choice Cheese Shops, I wish you a very happy holiday season to include many great meals with the ones you love!
Market-PateI love October! The leaves turn vibrant colors, the air gets crisp, and there are lots of exciting things happening at your Market of Choice Cheese Shop.

The 6th Annual Harvest Cheese Sale is going on October 17-20. You'll find great deals, in a fantastic variety of textures and flavors. There's a variety of cheddars; creamy, spreadable cheeses; tasty Wisconsin Parmesan; and Havarti. Don’t forget to pick up some sweet Spanish Fig and Chocolate bars and sliced, savory Prosciutto from Italy at amazingly low prices; they'll make wonderful accents to your harvest cheese boards. In addition to these great deals, there’s also the annual “Guess the Weight of the Wheel” contest. Come in, take a guess, and see if your answer is close enough to enter the drawing for the grand prize!

We have also introduced our handcrafted Charcuterie Line made by your Market Chefs. These tasty creations include high-quality, humanely raised Carlton Farms pork, King Cole duck and Draper Valley chicken. Ideal for serving with fresh bread, the richness of our pâtés and rillettes is a yummy contrast to zesty mustards and pickled veggies.

Beaver Classic Cheese from Oregon State University will be available at all our Cheese Shops by the end of this month. Market of Choice is thrilled to be the first local retailer to carry this 9-month aged cheese handmade by students with fresh Jersey cow’s milk from the dairy at OSU. The story behind the resurrection of the dairy program at OSU and the Beaver Classic will be told in a future cheese blog from one of our stewards at our Corvallis Cheese Shop; check back soon!

With the weather ranging from blustery wind and rain to warm, crisp Indian Summer days ending with hazy sunsents, October is a great time to explore all the delicious new additions to your Market Cheese Shop!
Mt-Townsend-ash-coveredMy experiences with Mt. Townsend cheeses have always been happy ones from Seastack with the visual drama of a layer of ash under the white bloomy rind and the slightly runny layer under the ash before you dig into the creamy center that has just the slightest crumble. The Trailhead, a wonderful chewy tomme that due to space at the creamery is on a bit of a vacation. Cirrus, a buttery little darling that is perfect on a cheese board or split with someone special as a dessert with a fabulous fruit spread. Your Market Cheese Shop will have the Cirrus on our Savories ad from March 22nd to April 4th so pick up one for Easter brunch!  I could go on and on, actually I will later about the cheese but first let’s talk about the people behind the cheese and what they mean to our glorious corner of the world.

Owners Matt Day and Ryan Trail started with the mission over seven years ago to reinvigorate the local dairy industry and have succeeded in building something special that is evolving into a destination. Along with a small dedicated crew in Port Townsend, Washington Mt. Townsend is sourcing their milk locally from multigenerational dairy families to create an array of cheeses that have been winning awards since 2008. They have a vision and a plan for the future that will continue to honor the region and show all of their fans and followers how a dream becomes a reality.

I set out on a sunny Saturday in early February to head to the scenic North Olympic Peninsula to tour the Mt. Townsend Creamery in Port Townsend, WA. In typical northwestern style the weather had gone from sunny in Portland to misty and subdued as I traveled the lovely scenic roads to Port Townsend. I love the way the mist hangs in the majestic evergreen trees of the northwest, it makes everything surreal and dreamy. As I arrived in Port Townsend I was charmed by how quaint the town was perched above the bay.

Mt-Townsend-OwnerThe creamery was easy to find, I easily pulled up in front of the fifty year old warehouse that has been retrofitted to house a modern cheese making facility and tasting room. My timing was good; co-owner Matt Day had just pulled into the lot next to the creamery to lead me on my tour. After a quick greeting in the parking lot, he pointed out the large whey vat outside the building that held the whey drained out of the make room after the cheese has been made. The whey is held in the tank until it is sent off to be food for some very lucky local pigs.

Matt then led me inside the front door to the tasting room. On the counter where samples of several Mt. Townsend cheeses ready to be enjoyed by visitors.  Lauren Crowley, the Mt. Townsend Cheese Ambassador was behind the counter ready to answer any questions that customers could have. A tall cooler to the side of the room chilled local beer, wine, cured meats and fish as well as all the Mt. Townsend cheeses which range from their mild Jack style New Moon which in 2012 won first in its class at the American Cheese Society and Campfire which is the New Moon smoked with alder and apple wood.  Also the bloomy rinds like Cirrus and Seastack and then the rustic washed rind Off Kilter that began as their Red Alder and had several washings of Pike Brewing Company’s Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale. My new favorite the creamy Fromage Blanc which is moist, milky and as Matt says “is really good with ginger snaps late at night”, also available with rich black truffle, can you say “wow”? For devoted locals or day tripping visitors the tasting room had all the tasty goodies to give you a culinary tour of the area.

As we walked past the counter of the tasting room toward the large windows that separate the tasting room from the make room Matt talked to me about their daily operations. Early in the morning the milk arrives to be pumped into the creamery and into the 310 gallon pasteurizer to become cheese. We took a quick detour into the packaging room where all the cheeses are wrapped and labeled by hand. Matt described the evolution of the building, how they had cleared out rooms that had been used for storage and were filled to the rafters with remnants of various businesses that had formerly called the building home and organized the available space to function for a modern cheese production and storage facility.

We donned plastic booties over our shoes and hairnets before entering the make room and aging rooms. While the cheese making was long over for the day, but Dylan Stanfield the Head Cheesemaker was still there cleaning, organizing and updating records. Matt talked about the equipment upgrades that they had been able to make over the years and how when they first started making cheese they had a bucket system for the milk that was setting with curd and how there was a layout around the make room that they had memorized on which bucket to work with at a time. Dylan, who formerly worked at Beecher’s in Seattle laughed at the idea of working the curd that way, he’d been lucky enough to come on board after the buckets were a thing of the past!

Mt-Townsend-young-cirrusWe continued into the aging rooms, one for the bloomy cheeses that had Seastack wheels that were dusted in black ash that hadn’t developed their snowy white rinds yet. Racks of young Cirrus lined the other side of the room some with the rinds in various stages of fuzziness. The next room had very young Off Kilter a new size format of the Red Alder, as well as some experimental cheeses that I might be able to taste in the near future!

Matt talked to me about the different equipment in the rooms in the back area of the creamery and how the size of the creamery has influenced decisions about which cheeses get focused on for production. Their Trailhead is a cheese that because of the larger size and how much room it takes up in the compact aging rooms is not available until Mt. Townsend finds more space. The team at Mt. Townsend has a vision for growing in a location down the road that will give them the room they need to bring the Trailhead back along with other inspired plans! Nik Lance who came on as a partner in 2011 stopped in the make room to give an update about some equipment and also expressed his excitement at the plan to move into a bigger facility. He was soon off to prepare for an event that evening with one of Port Townsend’s local organizations.

Mt-Townsend-SamplesI finished my visit happily snacking on cheese in the tasting room visiting with the Matt and Lauren. The visit had made me feel inspired and Matt sent me off into the afternoon with some cheese and an invitation to come back anytime. If you find yourself in the misty majesty of the Peninsula near Port Townsend, take some time to visit the creamery and see how a committed vision can create some truly tasty cheese! You can also visit the tasting room at Pike’s Place Market in Seattle and online at www.mttownsendcreamery.com to see all the cheeses available and other great info about events and farmer’s markets.

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