Tag Archives: Blue Cheese

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Slow News Day: Rogue Creamery in SF Chronicle


Oregon’s Rogue Creamery and its award-winning Rogue River Blue Cheese just got mentioned in Janet Fletcher’s wonderful cheese column in the San Francisco Chronicle. She also noted Cowgirl Creamery‘s Red Hawk Cheese, which took second place overall in the recent American Cheese Society competition and has won Best of Show in the past.

In addition to the traditional dairy states — Wisconsin, California, Vermont, New York  — that are associated with award-winning cheese, Fletcher noted that ACS ribbons were spread around to some relative newcomer states, like Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Texas and Utah. Good news for U.S. cheese production (and enjoyment)? One can only hope.

Rogue Creamery’s Blue Wins Top Cheese Prize

It would be achievement enough to be crowned Best Blue Cheese, but the Rogue River Blue from Rogue Creamery in Oregon did even better, winning Best of Show at the 26th annual American Cheese Society competition, which was held recently in Austin, TX. The blue cheese beat an astonishing 1,326 other entries in what is often billed as “the Super Bowl of cheese”.

Cowgirl Creamery, in Point Reyes, CA, took Second Place in the competition, for its superb Red Hawk washed-rind cheese.



Days before the win, we visited Rogue Creamery in Central Point, OR, on our return from our road trip between San Francisco and Portland. We got a chance to chat with talented and passionate cheesemonger Tom Von Voorhees and to taste tons of special, hand-recommended cheeses.


The blues were indeed a highlight, and we had many generous samples. Choosing a favorite was immediately impossible — it was always the last cheese tasted. The Oregon Blue, made with raw milk, was robust, bright and creamy, with lots of wonderful classic roquefort taste. The Oregonzola was also very tasty and had a harder texture. If pressed, I’d say my favorite was the Crater Lake Blue, which was very creamy, with an even stronger and more complex blue flavor than the others.

They’ve all won their share of awards.


The new Caveman Blue, below, was also outstanding and flavorful and extremely creamy.


Along with the cheese tastes, we enjoyed splendid Carpenter Hill wine from the nearby Carpenter Hill Vineyard. We especially liked the Tango Red, a warm, fruity mix of merlot and cabernet, and bought some to take home. Syrah leaves from Carpenter Hill are used to wrap the Rogue River Blue for aging up to one year. Lee Mankin from Carpenter Hill explained how the Syrah leaves are macerated in Clear Creek Pear Brandy made from locally picked pears, so that the cheese is a complete example of local terroir. We moved to the cheese counter, where we got talking to Tom about all things life and cheese, and we never tasted the ACS award winner! Based on the array of Rogue Creamery blues, it has to be terrific. I can’t wait to try it.


We first tried the 4-year Noordhollander Gouda, which offered an extremely tasty mix of caramel sweetness and tangy bite, along with a wonderfully rich, crunchy texture.


We really enjoyed Pholia Farm’s Pleasant Creek and Covered Bridge goat cheeses, which are made locally in Rogue River, OR. Both had a superb, strong goat taste and, were we not traveling by car in a heat wave, we would have picked up a bunch. If you are lucky enough to live near Pholia Farm, they offer farm tours and cheesemaking classes.


From the Willamette Valley Cheese Co. in Salem, OR, comes this Perrydale cheese, a cow/sheep mix that was wonderfully sweet and delicately fruity.


We were very impressed with this raw-milk Emmenthaler from Edelweiss Creamery in Wisconsin. It had a terrific taste and is made the traditional way in huge copper vats.


I must mention that Rogue Creamery is also known for its cheddars. I was personally nearing my limit — Yes, there is one — so I didn’t cheddar up, but here’s a sampling, along with Rogue’s famous curds, which are very good, and the Caveman Blue.



We snapped up some curds and the hardest (hardiest) cheese for the journey, along with some Rustic Bakery crackers, which come from our home county of Marin. They are extremely tasty. We first encountered them at a local Wine and Gourmet event, and fell in love. Rustic’s flatbreads were originally created specifically to compliment the complex cheeses being produced by artisan creameries.



Rogue Creamery was started in the 1930s by Tom Vella, of Sonoma, CA’s Vella cheesemaking family. He learned blue-cheese-making techniques in Roquefort, France, and in 1957, produced the first cave-aged Blue Cheese west of the Missouri River.



I was very enamored with both the creamery and the picturesque Rogue River Valley and plan to return to sample other local artisan foods. Congratulations again, Rogue Creamery, on your most impressive win.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Cheese of the Week: Blu del Monviso


If you love the distinctive taste of blue cheese, but would like to try something more creamy than crumbly, then Blu del Monviso, from the Serale family dairy in Italy’s Piedmont region, is your blue. It’s extremely soft and spreadable and, as a result, is excellent on a water cracker. Its dense, creamy texture gives this cow’s milk blue a great mouth feel and incredible staying power, which is good because the taste is wonderful — sweet, milky, a bit nutty and somewhat mild, but with plenty of traditional, pungent blue-cheese mold. Blu del Monviso is especially rich (60-day aging brings out the mold), but without a sharp bite, rendering the contrast between taste and texture an exceptional treat. It also has a chewy rind my husband calls “toothworthy” and, indeed, some of the most tasty cheese was right at the rind.

This cheese would be fantastic on a burger, or anywhere else you might use, say, brie. It’s also great spread on a thick piece of whole wheat walnut bread and accompanied with grapes. Being the port fiend I am, I had this with a 20-year Cockburn’s Tawny. The caramelness of the port offered the perfect complement for the Monviso’s distinct taste.


Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Cheese of the Week: Pt. Reyes Original Blue


You could tell me blue cheese is created by a mold until you’re, well, blue in the face. I still wouldn’t care. I’m a sucker for blue cheese in all forms. Legend has it that the first Roquefort was discovered by accident, by a French shepherd in the early Middle Ages whose wandering eye for the ladies caused him to leave his bread-and-cheese lunch in a cave full of Roquefort mold. When he returned days later, he found his cheese veined in blue and was adventurous — and hungry — enough to give it a try.

Et, voila, blue cheese was born.

The Europeans dominated the blues for years, and the names Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Stilton are protected by region, much like Champagne. In 1941, enterprising Iowan Fred Maytag II began manufacturing an American blue, after microbiologists at Iowa State discovered a way to make it.

Now, the Giacomini family and their Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company have created their own Original Blue, said to be the only true blue cheese made in California. Luckily, for locals and others, it’s quite good. It’s got the traditional blue-cheese tang, yet is also mild, with a hint of milky sweetness. It’s also wonderfully creamy, so that it can be spread on a cracker, in addition to being crumbled into a salad, such as warm beets with walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette. And, of course, it looks good, with its great blue veins of you-know-what running through it.


Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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