OREGONZOLA: Leave it to Oregon to do something totally different. This cheese was sweeter and more pungent than the others I tried, with a true respect to the blue standard but from a whole 'nother angle. Almost like a sweet, sharp white cheddar and blue cheese had a baby. It had a middle of the road texture, soft enough at room temperature to spread, or melt in your mouth, but a few minutes in the freezer would make it perfect for crumbling, too. Because of this cheese's dramatic taste, I would recommend it for use in salads and dressings, and as a garnish. It needs to be a dominant flavor in the meal. Save this for your elegant cheese platters. It's not for immature palates.
ROGUE SMOKEY BLUE: A pioneer of a cheese, this is the world's first smoked blue cheese. Uh, YUMMM! Really good in a salad, and a great choice for a dressing. Or for eating. Firmer than other blue cheeses. Like other Rogue cheeses, it is true blue, but also truely smokey. This is a good cheese to use if you have an audience that doesn't want to step out of the box. Not to say that this cheese is tame, but the smokiness will appeal to most Americans. Of course I can buy these cheeses at my local store, because I live in Oregon. But I am wondering about the availability to my readers in other states. Please leave me a comment if you can, or cannot find it in your area.
From http://www.thestrongbuzz.com/: Rogue Creamery [home of Oregonzola] has a long history of cheesemaking stretching back to the 1930's. It is also a tradition peppered with "firsts." Oregon Blue was the first blue cheese produced on the west coast, Rogue Smokey Blue was the first of its kind from the region, the creamery won an awared for the best blue cheese at the World Cheese Awards in London in 2003, and this year Rogue Creamery became the first American artisan producer to export raw milk cheese to Europe. This recent development is a huge step forward not just for Rogue but also for the larger artisan cheese industry. They are putting American cheeses on the map and also cementing the tradition of raw milk cheesemaking in the U.S.
Oh, shoot. The signage for this cheese said it made the best mac and cheese, and they weren't kidding. I wish I would have bought a larger piece straight out of the gate, because I used it in a philly cheesesteak inspired mac with provolone - I couldn't wait to see what it could do on its own, or on a grilled cheese sandwich... or on crackers with an apple and some proscuitto or salami. Almost cheddar-like, crumbly enough for a salad, although not a good candidate for dressing, an A+ cheese for a cheese tray. And Seattle is local enough, keeping your artisan cheese dollars in the northwest.
The first wheel of Flagship, Beecher’s signature cheese, was handcrafted just as Beecher’s Handmade Cheese opened its doors in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market in November of 2003. Flagship is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese with a uniquely robust, nutty flavor. It is carefully aged for one year under the watchful eye of the cheesemaker to fully develop its complex flavor and ever-so-slight crumble.