Thursday, November 02, 2006

Liz's November Faves

From the Logsden, Oregon cheesemaker River’s Edge is the formerly named Tillamook Burn. Now it’s called Up in Smoke. There was an enormous fire in Oregon colloquially known as the Tillamook Burn. Unfortunately there is also a very territorial cheddar maker called Tillamook Cheddar that called their lawyers over this diminutive little goat cheese. River’s Edge takes a ball of impeccably fresh, pasteurized goat cheese made from the milk of their free-ranging Alpine goats, and wraps it in hand-harvested maple leaves. The tidy little package is smoked for a final product that reminds me of hot dogs, in the only the very best ways. Hot dogs, hot cider, crisp pumpkin patches, smoldering wood. In short, super autumnal. I love this with a hunk of baguette and the tobacco-earthiness of Oregon Pinot Noir.

Finally, a little weirdo of a cheese from Portugal. My mother tells me that “olive” was my first word. Before mama and da-da, I was able to squeak out “ay-ya” and I often went to bed with a bottle of hot cocoa and a pitted, canned black olive on each of my ten fingers. I’d like to believe that my palate has improved (or at least my pairing inclinations), but I’ve always loved the briny, vegetal tang of olives. No surprise, then, that I am moderately obsessed with new Amanteigado Mini coming in from Setubal, just south of Lisbon. This is a farmhouse version of the famed D.O. cheese Azeitao. It’s got no D.O so it goes by this vague moniker loosely interpreted as soft-thistle-renneted-ewe’s-milk-cheese. It’s got intense olive flavor, piquant, salty, with a crushed flower aftertaste. Get yourself a tiny knife and gently saw around the perimeter of the mini wheel. Peel the top off, insert finger, lick. Repeat. If you are having company I would recommend a piece of bread or breadstick in lieu of your finger, unless the relationship is appropriately intimate. A minerally Albarino should work well, alone or in a group.

-Liz Thorpe, Director of Wholesale