Artisan cheeses are one of the great joys of locavore eating in Whatcom County. Several local farms produce traditional and gourmet cheeses which are available year round.
I recently visited Appel Farms (Ferndale). Their family-owned dairy has been producing a wide variety of delicious cheeses for over 30 years. You can browse the coolers in their retail store, the Cheese Shoppe, located right on the farm, open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 6pm. Each cooler has an inviting array of tasting samples so you can readily savor the flavors and styles of cheese available. It’s a culinary adventure since Appel’s products range from familiar cheddars and feta to less well known varieties like paneer and quark. Their aged, smoked, and flavored gouda cheeses are my personal favorites. Try their red pepper gouda–a tasty delight!
Appel Farm’s Cheese Shoppe carries products from other farms, too, such as jams and jellies, gift items, and Grace Harbor Farm’s (Custer) yogurt and skin care products. I love making yogurt cheese from Grace Harbor’s yogurt. The texture is perfect, and yogurt cheese makes a wonderful cream cheese substitute in recipes. I used it in this week’s dessert recipe.
About half a dozen different Whatcom County farms produce cheese commercially. You’ll see some of them at your local Farmers Markets, the Community Food Co-op, and Terra Organica. Some local restaurants include local cheeses on their menu, too. You can find farm details and contact information in the 2010 Food and Farm Finder (published by Sustainable Connections) or search on NW Farms & Food online Farm Map.
Several of the farms have on-site stores, and some offer special cheese tasting events and guided tours as well. In most cases, the same farms offer other kinds of dairy products, too.
My menu this week includes a sample of things you can do with local cheeses:
Have fun discovering some wonderful local flavors!