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Northwest cheeses.

Lots of contented cows ... lots of cheese choices, old and new, in markets throughout the West. Or go to the source

Home to the country's most contented cows (Washington is first among all 50 states in milk production per cow), the Northwest generates plenty of raw material for one of its fastest-growing cottage industries--cheesemaking. And the cuisine-conscious new producers don't stop at cows; they're using goat's and sheep's milk, too. A tasting party is a great reason to get together with friends and try some of the new, high-quality, limited-production Northwest cheeses (and maybe rediscover some old favorites). Some are sold in supermarkets. For the rest, look in specialty cheese shops, fancy food stores, and health-food stores throughout the West. Or, to add some earthy authenticity to your cheese shopping, travel to a dairy farm. On page 128, we list farms and production facilities you can visit. Often you can taste and buy cheese on the premises; some also ship by mail. And many show you the cheesemaking process.

The Northwest, a-cheesing more today than ever in its long production history

Commercial cheesemaking in the Northwest started at Tillamook, Oregon, in 1899 and focused for years on traditional cheddar, jack, colby, and Swiss. Today, selection is far more eclectic--and business is thriving. In May, Tillamook--perhaps the West's best-known producer--is set to open a $4-million viewing and manufacturing addition at its coastal plant. Some Northwest cheesemaking reflects the ethnic heritage of the local community. A Dutch influence for example, is evident in the gouda and edam production of Yakima Valley Cheese in Sunnyside, Washington. And in Salmon, Idaho, home of many Basques, Salmon Valley Cheese uses sausage flavors of linguisa and chorizo in its cheddar. Well-supplied with milk from its dairy herds, Washington State University was inspired in 1943 to try making cheese; since then, its Cougar Gold has been a regional favorite. And WSU's short course in cheesemaking is more popular every year (see listing 12 below). Experiments by today's cheesemaking entrepreneurs have led to the availability of many cheeses that are either new to the area or just plain new. (Carla Koford of Portland, for example, makes fresh Guernsey milk mozzarella and plans to market one that's made, as in Italy, from water buffalo milk.)

The cheesy Northwest: a four-state directory

Except for Appel, the producers listed below all have some sort of retail outlet. If you can't visit, you can mail-order from listings with an asterisk. Some places also have viewing windows or rooms; if you want to see cheese being made, call ahead to check production schedules.

Northwest cheeses: where to see them made, where to buy them


1 *Appeal Farm Quark, c/o Langerfeld

Imports, 580 E. Wiser Lake Rd., Lynden 98264; (206) 354-1125. Quark is a spreadable cheese that tastes like a mix of yogurt, cream cheese. Mail-order only. 2 Pleasant Valley Dairy, 6804

Kickerville Rd., Ferndale 98248; 366-5398. Raw-milk classic Dutch gouda and farmstead cheese (firmer and more tart than gouda). Mail-order October through April 15. No store, but visitors can buy cheese in 2-pound wheels; call ahead. 3 *Washington Cheese Company, 900 E.

College Way, Mount Vernon 98273; 424-3510. Tours, retail shop. Cheddar and cheddar varieties (such as smoked salmon cheddar), plain and flavored jack, mozzarella, low-fat cheeses. Open 9 to 5:30 Mondays through Saturdays. 4 Sally Jackson Cheese, Star Route 1,

Box 106, Oroville 98844. Highlights of more than 24 cheeses are aged sheep's cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves, or rubbed with cocoa or wood ash; flavored soft chevres; hard goat cheese flavored with dried Roma tomato, oregano, and basil; hard cow's milk cheese with sweet pepper, garlic, and herbs. Limited mail order. Write to arrange a farm visit. 5 Quillisascut Cheese Company, 2409

Pleasant Valley Rd., Rice 99167; (509) 738-2011. Spanish-style goat's milk manchego is sold young (soft, sweet, nutty flavor) or aged (firm, piquant, good for grating). Also aged goat cheese with fennel seed and lavender or pink peppercorns and dill. Maceres is a spread of aged and fresh goat cheese. Mail-order October through April. Visitors welcome to the rustic 26-acre farm; call ahead. 6 Green River Cheese Co., 8260 S. 192

St., Kent 98032; (206) 872-7600. Office sells mozzarella in 1- and 5-pound loaves, 9 to 5 weekdays. 7 Mazza Cheese Co., 1515 Puyallup St.,

Summer 98390; 863-3857. Mozzarella, provolone, feta. Call to arrange a tour of the new facility. 8 Olympia Cheese Co., 3145 Hogum

Bay Rd. N.E., Olympia 98506; 491-5330. Cheddars and jacks, colby, string cheese, provolone, havarti, cream cheese, low-fat versions of some cheeses. Store, open 9 to 5 Mondays through Saturdays, offers samples. No viewing. 9 Darigold Cheese Plant,

67 S.W. Chehalis Ave., Chehalis 98532; 748-8826. Cheddar, colby, jack made here, by Washington's largest cheese producer. No viewing. Store is open 8 to 5 weekdays. 10 Mount Capra Cheese, 279 S.W. 9th

St., Chehalis 98532; 748-4224. Makes feta-style Olympic, cheddar-type Alpine, herb goat cheese. Mail-orders locally year-round, out-of-state in winter. Factory store is open 9 to 5 weekdays. 11 *Yakima Valley Cheese Company,

100 Alexander Rd., Sunnyside 98944; (509) 837-6005. Known for gouda and edam. Store and viewing hours are 9:30 to 5 Mondays through Saturdays. 12 *Washington State University

Creamery, Troy Hall 101, Pullman 99164; 335-4014. No viewing. Store sells Cougar Gold, Viking (mild white cheese), cheddar. Cheeses come in cans but require refrigeration. In March, a three-day course in cheesemaking is offered.


13 *Tillamook County Creamery

Association, Box 313 Tillamook 97141; (503) 842-4481. Cheddar (some aged), colby, jack, and flavored versions of each. Large cheese and gift shop, with viewing, is open 8 to 6 daily. Restaurant features grilled cheese sandwiches. 14 *Blue Heron French Cheese

Company, 2001 Blue Heron Dr., Tillamook 97141; 842-8281. Store in a picturesque barn sells camembert, brie, other cheeses; wine tasting. No viewing. Cheese is now made out-of-state. 15 *Tall Talk Dairy, 11961 S. Emerson

Rd., Canby 97013; 266-1644. Goat feta, jack, and spreadable flavored cheese. Tours of dairy by arrangement. 16 Curly's Dairy, 2310 Mission St.

S.E., Salem 97302; 362-2401. Cottage cheese and soft cream cheese. Store open 8 to 5 weekdays, 8 to 4 Saturdays. No viewing. 17 Singing Winds Dairy, 17225 Beck

Rd., Dallas 97338; 623-3021. Raw goat cheddar, pasteurized chevres (herb and plain). Farm tour by appointment. 18 *Bandon Foods, Inc. Box 1668,

Bandon 97411; 347-2456. Best-known for cheddars, including a full cream cheddar and 12 flavored ones. Store sells cheese and gifts. Three viewing windows, and a video on cheesemaking. 19 *Rogue Gold Dairy, Inc., 234 S.W.

Fifth St., Grants Pass 97526; 476-7786. Mild to sharp and raw-milk cheddars, flavored jacks. No viewing. Write or call for brochure. 20 Rogue River Valley Creamery, 311

N. Front St., Central Point 97502; 664-2233. Oregon blue-vein (the only blue cheese produced in the West), cheddar, jack. Sales 9 to 5 weekdays; viewing. 21 Klamath Falls Creamery, 1310

Main St., Klamath Falls 97601; 884-5101. Crater Lake cheddar and jack, and gift packs sold 8 to 5 weekdays.


22 *Rollingstone Chevre, 27349 Shelton

Rd., Parma 83660; (208) 722-6460. At least 24 kinds of chevre, including cheese layered with pesto and pistachio, dried tomato and basil, or Italian strawberry preserves; $10 to $16 a pound. Call to arrange a farm visit. 23 *Swiss Village, Box 280, Nampa

83653; 467-4424. Cheddar, longhorn cheddar, jack, marbled cheeses, flavored cheeses, low-fat cheeses. Retail hours are 8 to 6 Mondays through Saturdays, 10 to 5 Sundays. Restaurant and gift shop. Viewing and tours by arrangement. 24 *Salmon Valley Cheese, Box B,

Salmon 83467; 756-3213. Baby Swiss, cheeses with linguisa or chorizo seasoning, and "dairy lite" havarti. Shop open 10 to 4 Mondays through Saturdays; tours by appointment.


25 *Glacier Mountain Cheese, Box 268,

Gallatin Gateway 59730; (406) 763-4433. Cheddar, colby, jack, and curds. Viewing from shop, which is open 9 to 5 weekdays, 10 to 6 Saturdays.
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Date:May 1, 1990
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