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The state of Oregon is made of cheese—or maybe it’s more accurate to say it was made by cheese.
In the early 1900s, a group of farmers came together to form a cooperative on the state’s northern coast, with the goal of creating the best dairy products possible. Over a century later, Tillamook cheese is Oregon’s foundational food brand, known and craved to such a degree that each year, millions of people flock to the factory where it’s made just to see how the magic happens.
Sure, Wisconsinites might wear their love of cheddar on their heads. But when a food processing plant is one of your top tourist destinations, you know your region is cheese crazy.
Tillamook is the tentpole of Oregon cheese, but there’s a lot more where that came from—and you can find a lot of it at New Seasons Market. Throughout September, grocers in Portland have been celebrating Oregon Cheese Month, putting a big, yellow spotlight on local producers of all things fresh and funky. Let’s be real, though: Our appetite for coagulation rages year-round. So with autumn approaching, we asked the experts at New Seasons Market to tell us about three of their favorite local cheeses and what to pair them with to create the ultimate fall charcuterie board.
Blue Cheese from Rogue Creamery
Founded in 1933, Rogue has been churning out world-class cheese from the titular valley in Southern Oregon nearly as long as Tillamook. But the creamery truly established itself in the 1950s when it began making cave-aged blue cheese, then a rarity in the United States. In fact, its flagship, the tangy, creamy Oregon Blue, was the first of its kind produced west of the Mississippi, and it remains the standout among Rogue’s roster of eight unique blue cheeses. All of them, however, are exceptionally recipe-friendly. Maybe grilled pears smeared with Smokey Blue? Or how about some cooked figs topped with award-winning Rogue River Blue? (Rogue River Blue won’t be available at New Seasons Market until late October, but trust us—it’s worth the wait.) Rogue is also the first company in Oregon to receive B-Corp certification, so whatever you choose to do with it, you can rest assured it’ll be not just delicious but environmentally friendly, too.
Cheddar from Face Rock Creamery
Bandon is the heart of Oregon cheesemaking. The temperate coastal climate grows great grass, which means well-fed cows producing exceptional milk—and thus, next-level cheese. Established in 2013, Face Rock continues a legacy that stretches back over a century. As such, head cheesemaker Brad Sinko makes sure to stick with what’s always worked: just milk, cultures and salt. But simple doesn’t have to mean basic. With that core ingredient list, Face Rock churns out dozens of distinctive varieties, with an emphasis on cheddar. Its roster is deep, running from applewood-smoked to spicy In Your Face to the garlic-infused Vampire Slayer. Any good cheddar is calling out for a crisp cracker to go with it—the folks at Face Rock themselves would recommend Effie’s Homemade Biscuits, available at New Seasons Market.
Chevre from Rivers Edge
From a small 12-acre farm in Logsden, Ore., comes some of the best goat cheese in the Pacific Northwest. Pat Morford has been making chevre for two decades, and tending to goats even longer. Her signature product is Up In Smoke—and no, it’s not what you’re thinking, Cheech, though a bite could leave you feeling the same way. Hand-molded balls of pasteurized chevre are smoked over alder and maple wood, then wrapped in dried, similarly smoked maple leaves collected directly from the woods surrounding the farm, which have also been lightly doused with bourbon. Although available all year, it tastes of pure autumn, and it’s absolutely knee-buckling paired with apples. And consider pouring a little bourbon for yourself, too. It is fall, after all.
You can find these cheeses—and many more—at New Seasons Market.