Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cheese Please, who knew there was so much to learn

I was invited to learn about cheese and experience the new Murray's Cheese Shop  at the Burlingame Fred Meyer in Portland recently.
I've had a variety of cheeses in my life, but never really understood cheese. I along with other local area bloggers got a lesson in cheese, cheese and whine pairings, all while enjoying the newly renovated Fred Meyer location at Burlingame. The Burlingame Fred Meyer on Barbur Blvd is the oldest standing Fred Meyer location. It was opened in 1950, and today still have the vintage sign out front welcoming customers along Barbur Blvd in Portland, Oregon.

On a Lovely end of May Spring day these flowers added such a nice touch to the tables. Reminds me that I really need to work on my flower garden so I can have fresh arrangements on the table more often.

We had a plate with 5 cheeses , a spot of Hood River Honey Comb, and Quince Paste. Each cheese offered a different flavor, texture, and feel. We started at 12 o'clock on the plate with the La Tur a pasteurized Cow, sheep and goat milk cheese from Piedmont, Italy. Honestly, it felt like cheese cake without the sweetness.  Next at 2 o'clock on the plate was a Sartori Pepper Bellaavitano pasteurized Cow  cheese from Plymouth Wisconsin. This is a grate and crumble cheese meaning it can be grated or crumbled and is an interesting replacement for a basic Parmigiana cheese.  Our third cheese, Tumalo Farms Pondhopper a pasteurized Goat cheese from Bend, Oregon; this cheese was also in the bag of goodies we were sent home with so I enjoyed this semi-hard cheese with a tangy flavor for a few weeks after. Moving around the plate to 8 o'clock is an Aged Manchego, a pasteurized sheep cheese from Castilla-La Mancha, Spain.  This is a "Cheese 101" staple according the experts. I have to agree with the description as a nutty, caramel flavor.  Finally another Oregon cheese, the Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue from Central Point.  I will be totally honest with you, until this tasting I was NOT a fan of blue cheese. We tasted it along and it was very salty but not too funky. Next we added the Honeycomb to a bit of the blue cheese and surprisingly it totally changed the texture and flavor of the cheese..

After the cheese tasting we mingled and talked with several of the employees including Amy Pitzer the Cheese Master. She has an amazing ability to figure out what cheese someone is describing and also gave up some great ideas for sandwiches with some of the cheeses we sampled. She also pointed out the amazing deals during  the Burlingame Grand Opening on what else, cheese. These prices are good through June 16, 2012 and include a Parmigianon Reggiano for $6 off per pound, Buy 1 Get 1 free on Crave Brothers 8 oz. Fresh Mozzarella, BOGO Margaux Mini Brie, save $7 per pound on Cave Aged Gruyere and several others.

We received a wonderful bag of goodies to take home and create with including a cheese cutter, a slate stone with slate chalk to sample cheese and label it, crackers, 2 cheeses, and a salami.  I got home earlier enough that evening to have the boys sample the cheese with some crackers (I'm saving the crackers from the bag for another day). I was surprised that Cameron my picky eater actually enjoyed both of the cheeses.

 The next day I created a simple sandwich for a late breakfast. I used a Whole Wheat Sourdough from Great Harvest Bread, thin slices on the Tumalo Farms,  Pondhopper , baby spinach , grape tomatoes halfed, and a drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar.  I love simple sandwiches with lots of flavor.

We also tried adding the Aged Manchego to grilled cheese sandwiches and found the flavor it added to really make a basic grilled cheese a whole lot better.

Thank you to Fred Meyer and the Murray's Cheese Shop for hosting this amazing event and for the gift bag full of cheese, goodies, and a bottle of wine.

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