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Food & Wine Festival
Cheeses of the United States
David Gremmels and Cary Bryant
The Rogue Creamery
Central Point, Oregon
Review by John Bowers
David Gremmels and Cary Bryant are the owners of The Rogue Creamery in southern Oregon. David and Cary visited the Epcot Food and Wine Festival on October 29, 2011, to host a tasting of four great cheeses produced in the United States.
Kate MacMurray, of MacMurray Ranch in
Sonoma County, California, was a special guest, and
she provided the two wines we tasted with the cheeses.
Kate's father is the late Fred MacMurray, the famed
Hollywood actor who starred most notably in the long-running television series "My Three Sons," as well as several Disney films ("The Absent-Minded Professor," "The Shaggy Dog").
Kate brought along the MacMurray Ranch 2008 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, and the 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
The first cheese we tasted was Cremont, a soft cheese from the Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery in Websterville, VT. I'm no cheese whiz, so here's what the web site says about it: "Cremont is a mixed-milk cheese combining local fresh cows' milk, goats' milk and a hint of Vermont cream. This cheese is a celebration of Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery’s terroir: Vermont cream, goats' milk, cheese know how and good taste for luscious cheese." It was very soft, very buttery, almost like eating softened butter. Despite being extremely rich, the flavor was light, and it paired well with both wines.
Our second cheese was San Andreas, from Bellwether
Farms in Sonoma County, California.
Here's what Bellwether says: "This raw sheep milk
farmstead cheese is a Bellwether original.
Smooth and full-flavored, it’s a delicious table cheese.
Try it with an aged red wine,
bread and olives." It was semi-firm, mild and
very tasty. If you have not tried any cheese
in your life except cow's milk cheese, it's worth giving
sheep's milk cheeses a try. Just go to a good cheese
shop and ask them to let you try a small taste of one
of their milder sheep's milk cheeses. You'll probably
be surprised. The San Andreas paired beautifully
with both wines.
We learned that the cheese in the center of a cheese wheel is referred to as the cheese "paste." The paste often tastes stronger and sharper than the part of the wheel closer to the rind. Some rinds are meant to be eaten, some are not. So now you know a tidbit about cheese with which you can impress your friends.
Our third cheese was called Landaff. Landaff Creamery in the White Mountains of New Hampshire produces this cow's milk cheese from their dairy farm, Springvale Farms. "Made from our own high quality raw cow's milk, Landaff Cheese is a mild, semi-firm cheese with a delicious combination of flavors, tangy with a clean finish. The open and buttery texture comes with a natural, cave-aged rind. It melts beautifully for cooking, and makes a wonderful addition to any cheese plate." This was a delicious cheese, very mild. If you aren't real adventurous (yet), you'll love this one. And once again, it was a winner with both wines.
Someone asked Kate MacMurray how her 'three brothers' were doing, referring to the three actors who played Fred MacMurray's sons on "My Three Sons." Kate said all three of them, Don Grady, Stanley Livingston, and Barry Livingston, are doing well. They all would send Father's Day cards to Fred MacMurray for many years after the show was cancelled.
Our final cheese was Caveman Blue. This blue
cheese is made by David and Cary's own Rogue Creamery
in Oregon. "Caveman Blue is a rich, complex blue that is deliciously sweet & fruity with slight vanilla tones and a texture of butter and crystals. It has nuances of beef and bacon & grass and hay, and is firm & lower in moisture with a natural rind featuring extensive blue mold development." Whether you spell it 'blue' or 'bleu,' most people either like it or they don't. For me it's usually a little too salty, as I thought this one was. I'm sure you can find different blues with a wide variety of tastes.
Everyone enjoyed both of Kate's wines with all four
of the cheeses. Granted, a chardonnay and a strong
blue/bleu aren't an ideal match, but the pinot held up well with all four, even the blue/bleu. Pinot noirs have a wonderful variety of flavor profiles, they match well with many cheeses. Chardonnays are happier
with milder, lighter cheeses. But, as you always hear, drink what you like and like what you drink.
David and Cary are passionate about cheese-making, and experts in the field. There's an American Cheese Society, and David is currently the Chairman. One of the most enjoyable things about the Epcot Food and Wine Festival each year is the chance to meet and learn from people like David and Cary. Disney puts these events on with such class.
And if you plan a cheese tasting, don't serve too many different ones, David said, and always start with the mildest ones first. Work your way up to the strong ones.