Posts Tagged ‘American Cheese Society’

Sunday, May 20th: A Celebration of Washington Cheese!

May 20, 2012

Farmstead cheeses from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Blessed are the cheese makers. And why not? They practice the oldest form of food preservation, after all. Thousands of years ago, long before refrigeration and pasteurization, we lowly humans figured out that if we aged milk in cool caves for a certain period of time, we could make tasty food from it that would last for quite a while without killing us. We didn’t necessarily understand that science of it back then, but we did appreciate the whole “trial and error” thing, and making cheese by aging cultured milk in caves seemed to work pretty well. Little did we know then that we were encouraging the healthy microorganisms that make cheese, well, cheese to overpower pathogenic microorganisms through the aging and drying process, resulting it a stable, safe and nutritious food product. We just knew that a) it didn’t kill us, b) it gave us energy to get through our chores, and c) it tasted good. (Of course, our “we all really need to be living in protective bubbles” obsessed government regulators of today would have us think this oldest form of food preservation should be banned for our own safety.) Well, in honor of Washington’s growing number of great cheese makers, and Seattle Cheese Week, we pay tribute to six wonderful, local cheese makers you will find right here at your Ballard Farmers Market, starting with Sea Breeze Farm (cheeses pictured above), who’s motto is, “Legalize Milk!”

Roger Wechsler of Samish Bay Cheese. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Why is Roger Wechsler of Samish Bay Cheese smiling? Maybe it is because he’s been winning so many awards lately for his cheeses. Indeed, over just the last two years, five different cheeses of his have won awards at the American Cheese Society Competition. Those cheeses include LadysmithLadysmith with ChivesAged Ladysmith, Labneh and Queso Jalapeno. Stop by Samish Bay’s stand today to sample some, and you’ll be taking some home with you for sure!

Fresh chevre from Port Madison. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Port Madison Farm makes lovely goat cheeses, from fresh cheeses to aged. Best known perhaps for their wonderful fresh chevre (above), don’t miss out on their ashed St. Helens, or their spring cheese, an aged variety. And each year, they seem to add another variety, so stop by to see what they’ve got now! Just don’t get here too late. They always sell out.

Cheese maker Matthew Day from Mt. Townsend Creamery in one of his four cheese caves in Port Townsend. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And why is Mt. Townsend Creamery’s Matthew Day smiling? For much that same reason as Roger is, I imagine. Of the dozen or so varieties of cheeses Mt. Townsend makes, three won awards in recent years from the American Cheese Society, though for my money, they all deserve awards. The award winners are CampfireNew Moon and Seastack. But again, try them all. And frankly, if you aren’t eating your bagels and Loki lox with their Truffled Fromage, you are, quite simply, out of your friggin’ mind!

Eric Sundstrom of Silver Springs Creamery chats with one of the girls. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Eric Sundstrom of Silver Springs Creamery stands out in his field for his jersey milk products. Literally, in this case, as he stands out in one of his pastures chatting with one of the girls that produce all that beautiful milk. If you haven’t ever tried his jersey milk, it is extraordinary. So rich, it is yellow. And so is the jersey yogurt he makes from it. This stuff has a beautiful, rich fat cap on top, with an unsurpassed flavor. And you don’t have to take just my word for it. It won first place in the yogurt category in 2010 from the American Cheese Society! Give it a try, and it’ll win you over, too.

Victor Jensen in the aging room at Golden Glen Creamery. Photo copyright by Mandy Alderink, courtesy of Golden Glen Creamery.

The Jensens at Golden Glen Creamery have been making cheese up in Bow for years. Located just a few miles from Samish Bay Cheese, they are part of a proud tradition of gouda makers in Washington’s Northwest Interior. But they also make cheddarfetafromagefarmstead butter, and much more. Stop by, grab a few toothpicks, and take to full taste test tour to find your favorite(s)!

Hey, there is plenty of local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.

Sunday, September 5th: Awarding Winning Market & Vendors! Of Firsts, Seconds, Thirds & Fourths!!!

September 5, 2010

A busy Ballard Farmers Market basks in golden smoky sunlight on August 1, 2010. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

According to the USDA, there are 6,132 farmers markets at present in the United States. And in the American Farmland Trust’s national 2010 America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest, your Ballard Farmers Market finished #4 in the large market category. Not too shabby. Thank you, good folk of the People’s Republic of Ballard, Seattle and Washington state for voting for Ballard. And to those who didn’t vote for Ballard out of fear it would draw even more people to Ballard Avenue every Sunday, you can rest assured that those crowds are headed to Rochester, NY now. And if you believe that, I have some condos in Belltown I’d like to sell you!

Anthony Estrella of Estrella Family Creamery holds three ribbons from 2010 Amercian Cheese Society competition. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of contests, the 2010 American Cheese Society Convention & Competition was held here in Seattle just last week, and three Washington cheese makers that sell right here at your Ballard Farmers Market won awards. Estrella Family Creamery, out of Montesano, won three ribbons, including First in Class (smoked Italian styles category) for their Weebles cheese, First in Class (sheep or mixed milks category) for their Caldwell Crick Chevrette, and a Second Place Award was given to their Jalapeño Buttery in the Flavored, Peppers category.

Roger Wechsler of Samish Bay Cheese. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Samish Bay Cheese, out of Bow, won four ribbons, including: First in Class for their Ladysmith cheese in Fresh Unripened Cow’s Milk Cheeses category; Second Place for their Aged Ladysmith in the Farmstead Cheeses up to 60 days category; Third Place fro their Ladysmith with Chives in Farmstead Cheeses with Flavoring category; and Third Place for their Yogurt Cheese (Labneh) in Cultured Products from Cow’s Milk category.

Cheese maker Matthew Day from Mt. Townsend Creamery in one of his four cheese caves in Port Townsend. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And Mt Townsend Creamery, from Port Townsend, won First in Class for their Seastack cheese in the Soft Ripened category. Congratulations to all the great cheese makers of Washington, who have so impressed the rest of the world over the last 5-10 years that they drew this major national cheese event to Seattle this year. And don’t forget that three more of those great Washington cheese makers — Golden Glen Creamery, Port Madison and Sea Breeze — also sell great cheese at your Ballard Farmers Market. Blessed are the cheese makers, indeed!

Fresh Frasier River Sockeye from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

The boats of Loki Fish have returned to Washington waters from Alaska after a long summer fishing up north. Now, they are harvesting Frasier River sockeye salmon just south of the Canadian border, and you can get some of this amazing fish fresh today.

Wild lobster mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Though we may be bemoaning the summer that never completely arrived this year, as we rapidly descend into fall, one thing we can celebrate is an early and vibrant fall wild mushroom season. Just look at these spectacular lobster mushrooms Foraged & Found Edibles has right now. And if you still don’t know why they are called lobster mushrooms after seeing this photo, you need to either adjust the color on your monitor, or you need to look up what a lobster looks like after it’s been steamed.

Cippolini onions from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cippolini onions are another of those wonderful heirloom Italian crops that so many farmers around here enjoy growing. Cippolini onions, like these from Oxbow Farm, are kinda squat in appearance, more disc-like than bulbous. They caramelize magnificently. Just imagine them on some crostini, or over a nice steak.

San Marzano tomatoes from Pipitone Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Another great Italian crop is San Marzano tomatoes, like these from Pipitone Farms. These are the tomatoes of Naples, growing in the rich volcanic soil of Mt. Vecuvius. They are prized for their rich, thick, meaty flesh that produces what many consider the finest tomato sauce on earth.

Colorful spices from Seattle Spice. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Looking for spices and rubs? Check out Seattle Spice. They offer a huge selection of spices, blends and rubs to accent the Market fresh goodness you’ll take home tonight. Stop by and just enjoy the aroma of the sample tins.

Caroline raspberries from Sidhu Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sidhu has a fresh wave of raspberries coming on from their fields in Orting. Above are their big, juicy and tangy Caroline raspberries. They also have ever-bearing raspberries now. And they still have plenty of blueberries and blackberries, too.

Many beans from Growing Things. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Just look at all these beans from Growing Things Farm! Green beans. Dragon Tongue beans. Yellow wax beans. Purple beans. I’m thinking pickles. Or casseroles. Maybe sauteed with bacon and pearl onions. How about a nice stir fry with pork or shrimp. Or perhaps a bean salad. Ah, beans!

Ailsa Craig onions from Prana Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ailsa Craig onions are not only one of my favorite onions to eat, they are also one of my favorites to say — Ailsa Craig! (Say it with your inner Scot.) These beautiful heirloom onions hail from Scotland originally. These are a sweet onion with a wonderful flavor, great sauteed, caramelized, roasted, grilled and raw. Prana Farms grows them for us here, along with many other heirloom crops.

Hot chilis in every color from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alvarez Organic Farms grows more than 150 varieties of peppers, some of which are varieties they have developed themselves. Above is just a small sampling of the many hot chili peppers they grow, in all their colorful glory. Peppers vary widely in flavor and heat, so experiment with them to find which ones you like the best.

And there is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check the What’s Fresh Now! listings in the upper right-hand corner of this page for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now!