Welcome to the first installment of our “Meet our Makers” interview series featuring one of the country’s best artisanal cheese makers, Rogue Creamery. To get things started, we met with Chelsea Faris and the team at Rogue Creamery to learn the secret to their success, discovered an amazing new picnic destination along the scenic Rogue River and learned how to pick an awesome cheese.
Rogue Creamery has been making artisanal cheese for over 80 years, what’s the key to your on-going success?
We have made it our mission to be dedicated to sustainability, service, and the art and tradition of creating the world’s finest handmade cheese. Inspired by a sense of place for 80 years, Rogue Creamery draws from the beauty and flavors of Southern Oregon’s Rogue River Valley to create TouVelle, cheddar, and eight handcrafted blue cheese recipes.
What flavors of the Southern Oregon landscape do you taste in your cheese?
Our cheeses reflect a deep connection to the land and artisanship. The cows graze at an elevation of 1250 ft. in pastures bordering the Rogue River, where they eat a variety of pasture and native grasses. You’ll taste notes of huckleberry, sweet buttery cream, hints of tropical fruit, grass and hay and in some of our blues a bold, earthy flavor.
Any interesting or unusual cheese and fruit pairings you’ve discovered?
I recently sampled our blue cheese on a 34° Cracker with quince paste and a Marcona almond on top. It was amazing! I’ve also heard that if you pair rhubarb jam with our Rosemary Cheddar it will really bring out the cheese’s delicate aromatics.
What’s your favorite picnic location along the Rogue River?
There is a boat launch area 20 miles north of the Creamery on the Rogue River that is perfect to fish in the early morning, launch your raft from on weekends or enjoy a picnic while watching the Hellgate Jetboats fly by in the afternoon and evening. I’ve been there countless times in the spring and summer.
Cheese is such a versatile ingredient, do you have a favorite dessert recipe to share?
Our cheddars tend to work really well in sweeter desserts. I love the savory richness of our Rustic Apple Galette made with our Pasteurized Cheddar.
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 c. water
- 4 apples, Granny Smith, Braeburn or other cooking apple
- 1 tbsp. flour
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- 6 oz. Rogue Creamery Pasteurized Cheddar, shredded
- 1 package frozen puff pastry dough* (thawed 30 minutes)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice and water.
- Peel and core apples. Slice thinly into ⅛” wedges. Immediately submerge apple slices into lemon water for 10 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon and transfer to a large bowl.
- Sprinkle apples with flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Toss gently to evenly coat all slices.
- Unfold one sheet of puff pastry dough on a floured piece of wax paper. Use a floured rolling pin to gently roll out dough to approximately 12” x 12”. Cut into quarters and trim corners of each square into a free-form circle. Place circles on parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pastry dough.
- Pierce each dough round with fork. Place approximately 2 tbsp. shredded cheddar in the center of each round, leaving approximately 1” of dough around the edges. Top cheese with apple slices, artfully overlapping slices to form a spiral. Fold exposed dough edges over the apple slices.
- Bake for 22-28 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Serve warm topped with vanilla bean ice cream. Also makes a tasty breakfast if gently reheated 3-5 minutes.
For newbies to the cheese scene, any advice on how to best navigate the sometimes intimidating cheese counter at their local shop?
When you first walk into a cheese shop it’s definitely going to be intimidating. Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to try different things; at a cheese shop it’s ok to try before you buy. Try something with age for a robust flavor, perhaps a washed rind cheese, or a blue. Raw milk cheeses offer more complex flavors. If you connect with a cheesemonger at the shop try to get them again the next time so you can discuss your previous experience.
If you could only eat one cheese for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I don’t think I could just pinpoint one cheese. Fresh cheeses, semi-soft, hard, and blue cheeses are so different depending on milk sources, terroir of the land, and cheesemaker styles. If I had to choose a style of cheese I would pick the mixed milk category like our Echo Mountain Blue and Mount Mazama Cheddar made with cow and goat’s milk. The flavors are crisp, clear, brilliant and complex leaving you with a tangy finish.
In a few words, what comes to mind when you think of the word cheese?
Savory, Sweet Cream.
Anything else you’d like to share?
We’ve recently registered as one of the first Benefit Companies in Oregon! It’s part of a new law allowing businesses to build social responsibility into their bylaws to benefit the community. Thanks so much for featuring us!