Mt. Townsend Creamery

by Matt on November 11, 2008


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.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Chimero November 11, 2008 at 5:21 am

I know what you mean about the pig-out moment, Matt. I ordered my Trio sampler a few days ago and I couldn't even force myself to buy some suitable bread for the experience. It was just me, the cheese, a spoon, and a ton of me mumbling things like "Oh geez" and "I can't believe how great this is."

Jackie November 11, 2008 at 6:30 am

I love these types of background stories. Thank you for telling us about Mt. Townsend Creamery — and about 1000 Markets! I'm already addicted.

Derek November 11, 2008 at 9:52 am

As a Seattle-area resident, I have the good fortune of having easy access to Mt Townsend Creamery's wonderful cheeses. Seastack is not only my favorite of their line, but one of my favorites cheeses period. I typically spread it on a small wedge of a crisp cracker. A bit of crunch complements the creaminess quite well.

Melanie November 11, 2008 at 10:04 am

I love cheese and I love Matt too

matt wright November 11, 2008 at 10:34 am

I completely agree, their cheese is awesome. They are at a couple of local farmers markets during the summer, and cannot help but bust my entire farmers market cash on them.

Is it bad to just live on cheese for a week?

Mt. Townsend Creamery November 11, 2008 at 10:48 am

Matt Wright-

As far as we're concerned….living on just cheese for a week is a really GOOD idea!

Liz November 11, 2008 at 12:51 pm

i don't know about the cheese…however…those picture are simply beautiful.

smorgasbroad November 11, 2008 at 1:36 pm

I've been have notions of becoming a cheese connoisseur lately. This is sending me over the edge!!! Artisanal cheese is so beautiful. I am really interested in the…what's that word…terroir of cheese. I wish there were some serious local dairies near where I live (in Oklahoma, not Norway)!

Nice post!

jak November 11, 2008 at 4:06 pm

ahhh… mt. townsend. and the seastack. one of my absolute favorite local products, the seastack was also a purchase from my first farmer's market outing after i moved up from california back in 2007. great to see them featured on your blog.

another great producer is the estrella family creamery (the old apple tree tome is crazy good–cow's milk, washed in cider and apple brandy)… check them out if you can.

what are you coming up to seattle for? need any recommendations?

180/360 November 12, 2008 at 8:21 am

YUM… those look so gorgeous.

Debbie Smith November 12, 2008 at 1:37 pm

This Jersey girl is so jealous of your cheese.

kosenrufu mama November 13, 2008 at 1:04 am

it looks so delicius that i would like to taste it!!!!

Julie November 14, 2008 at 7:44 pm

That cheese looks heavenly and 1000 markets site looks like a wonderful place to begin holiday shopping. Great post, Matt!

Loulou November 16, 2008 at 2:56 pm

I so love hearing about the artisan cheese revolution in America! It is inspiring.
I will definitely be trying these gorgeous looking cheeses in February when I'll be visiting family in Washington State.

Nancy G. November 17, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Read your blog on Friday morning, the same evening I went to dinner at a local restaurant here in Gig Harbor, WA and lo and behold, Seastack cheese on the cheese platter appetizer. Yum, yum.

Laura November 25, 2008 at 9:23 pm

I just discovered them at the Ballard market on Sunday. The Fromage Blanc has disappeared as an “eating while cooking” treat on crackers. And the seastack is stashed away at the back of the fridge just waiting for me to decide to share it. Or I might wait until I’m home alone this weekend and keep it all to myself…

Maris December 16, 2008 at 10:08 am

Cheese sound seriously be its own food group! Sounds so good!

Annie December 29, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Matt oh Matt,

You make me drool whenever I come to your blog. Cheese is one of my favorites, especially the kind that is melty, stinky and err hand-made in France. I’ll have to try these myself soonnnn.

bad home cook December 30, 2008 at 2:46 pm

Oooooh Matt. That’s food porn. No fair. That I have to look at those creamy rounds, so firm, so…ripe. Waiting for me to plunge my spoon into their fulsome depths. Ah, the torment.
Great writing, too, of course. ;-)

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