Today is Part 2 in my 1000 Market series. And it's about cheese! WAHOO!
Cheese, how much do I love thee? Forget it, I'm not going to count the ways. I know you, my sweetest of readers, have not the time nor the patience for me to even begin to tell you how cheese runs through my veins. But believe me, it does.
Just recently my pal Matt from 1000 Markets told me about a new vendor on his site. The company, Mt. Townsend Creamery, had a unique story and a delicious product. I must've dozed off when he began telling me the company history because all I could do was daydream about little wedges of cheeses from the Pacific Northwest. A few days later I was able to understand his excitement and sat down to a small little cheese tasting at home. And then my little cheesetasting turned into a full-on pig out moment until most of my cheese was gone.
Mt. Townsend Creamery began three years ago when partners Matt Day, Will O'Donnell and Ryan Trail decided to create artisan cheeses using fresh local milk from Washington dairies. Located in Port Townsend, Washington, the creamery is housed in a fifty year old building that has been home to boat builders, glass repair companies, a radical fringe book publisher (why not?) and most recently the local Department of Licensing. The three cheese fellas, along with the help of friends and local contractors, created a modern facility that produces traditional European-style handmade cheeses that are pretty damn special and delicious. In fact, they recently won a 1st place award for their Trailhead cheese from the 2008 American Cheese Society Awards. And yes, Trailhead, a rustic, mountain-style cow's milk cheese, is just as fantastic as I dreamed it would be.
But what really knocked my socks off were their Cirrus and Seastack cheeses. I tasted a few different ages of these two cheeses and was amazed at the sense of place in each taste. Hey, that's what happens when you use local milk that's hormone-free from cows allowed to graze the pastures of the Olympic Peninsula. Mt. Townsend Creamery's Cirrus is a Pacific Northwest camembert, as buttery and rich as can be but with a distinct difference. The four week ripening process yields a wonderful texture but the only problem I found with this cheese is that I didn't want to share it nor enjoy it with anything. Me, a little knife, my mouth, you get the picture.
I don't want to play favorites but the Seastack was my true favorite. This is a mold-ripened cheese that is coated in vegetable ash and salt before ripening. The result is a mottled appearance and earthy flavor that literally makes my mouth water just writing about it. Apparently the piquant characteristics intensify as it ages and that makes me a very happy guy. There was so much flavor and unique characteristics inside each of these small little wheels of cheese and I can't wait to get more and maybe this time around I'll share. Ok ok, in all fairness I did share with my friend Teri and I'll have to give her a call and find out what she thought of the cheeses.
Ok, so back to Mt. Townsend Creamery. They're available locally at various farmers' markets and retail locations in the Northwest and I certainly plan on picking some up when I'm in Seattle in January. But luckily for everyone else they've joined 1000 Markets as a partner and their marvelous cheeses are only a click away. If you do indeed order some of their cheeses I'd love to know what you think.