Entries tagged with “West of Seattle”.


We took the ferry to Vashon Island to visit friends, but as long as we were there, we didn’t want to miss the Vashon farmers market and a stop at La Boucherie, the restaurant run by Sea Breeze Farm. I’m accustomed to buying raw materials such as meat and milk from Sea Breeze at Seattle venues; I liked the idea of sampling how they would cook and serve their own products, in their own island environment.

This early in the season, we were glad just to wander without fleece or raincoats; we knew we’d be lucky to find even salad greens to contribute to our friends’ kitchen. By the time we arrived around 1 p.m., though, even the greens were gone — but, unlike the Seattle markets, where eggs sell out post-haste, we still could have scored a basket of pastel beauties practically custom-laid for Easter.

Eggs at the Vashon Island Farmers Market

Eggs at the Vashon Island Farmers Market

Hogsback Farm table: "Sorry! We sold out!"

Hogsback Farm table: "Sorry! We sold out!"

Some markets stick purely to harvest goods, but I’ve always liked a mix of vendors. I was glad to see, especially in this spare season, some crafts, a Vashon winery, a chocolatier, and homemade caramels, among other tables. 

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I feel compelled to chronicle the successes of Mount Townsend Creamery for two reasons: One, the Port Townsend-based business makes great cheese. Two, I once proclaimed that its cheeses are among the best in the country, and I’m always glad to have formal backup for my judgments. This time it’s in the form of the 2009 United States Cheese Championship, which the Associated Press calls “the cheese makers Super Bowl,” where Mount Townsend took first place for its Trailhead Tomme in the category of semi-soft cheeses.

The championship website doesn’t have an overview of the winners, you need to click on each of the 65 categories to see who won. After some excruciating search time, it occurred to me that Oregon-based cheese author Tami Parr had probably already pulled out exactly the information I wanted. And indeed she had, listing all the Northwest winners on her Pacific Northwest Cheese Project site. Tami wrote that “this year’s buzz is all about Tumalo Farms of Bend, Oregon, which took runner up to Best in Show (that’s 2nd place out of 1,300+ cheeses) for its Gouda style Goat’s milk Classico - quite a feat.”

There are various cheese competitions around the world, with different emphases on large producers and small. (I didn’t see Beecher’s, for instance, a big gun in various cheese awards, with any entries at this event.) Parr has this take on it: “While this contest tends to be dominated by cheesemakers from industrial sized cheese plants, artisan cheesemakers often enter the prestigious competition for the chance to be judged by the best experts in the industry.”

When looking at Mount Townsend’s web site just now, I noticed something new — Will O’Donnell, one of the creamery’s three founders, is no longer listed as an owner. Looks like he’s now director of the Port Townsend Farmers Market.

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Kurt Timmermeister, who has sold raw milk from his Vashon Island dairy farm for the past four years, is done. In the next few weeks, he wrote, he will give up his license to sell fluid milk and will concentrate instead on making cheese. He’s ordered a cheese vat-pasteurizer from the Netherlands, and a holding/chilling tank from Canada, and will only sell milk until the new equipment is here and hooked up. First on his cheese list is a Camembert, well-suited to the “rich, creamy milk” from his Jersey cows.

Timmermeister has written eloquently about the licensing and health department hassles surrounding raw milk, and its potential benefits and dangers have long spurred debates and lawsuits — but he didn’t invoke the controversies when describing the changeover.

He wrote:

“At the end of last year, I had a bit of an epiphany. I was done selling milk. 

My attention span is limited. I can only find something exciting for a period of time. Then I want to try a new challenge. I had learned the milk trade. The barn was built, the dairy too and the pastures were coming in nicely. A new challenge was needed.”

 

 

 

 

Read more, and keep up with his cheesemaking journey, here.

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