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Apr 6, 2009 11:32 AM

Exceptional Regional Cheese Available in Seattle?

We'll be in Seattle in about a month. Can anyone suggest any cheese made in the region that's not available elsewhere, & which stores carry it? We tend to prefer stronger flavors over mild, aged over young, sheep's or goat's over cow's milk. Yes, we're already happily aware of Sally Jackson's world-class cheese. Any other treasures lurking out there? Cheers!

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  1. Get yourself to a weekend farmers market. Ballard probably has the most cheese vendors, but the University District market is close. You'll find the small, artisan cheese vendors all over there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: patriciajane

      Beecher's is a fun stop in the Pike Place market. They make more of a vermont cheddar than anything else, but they make it into grilled cheese sandwiches, and the quality is 1st class. While you're there you can check out Jack's Fish and Chips, and the three sisters bakery Apple Fritters.

      1. re: dnamj

        Oh, and speaking of flavors not found elsewhere, Uli's Famous Sausages are right across the street in the main arcade. He's got like 15 or 20 vaarieties there every day and will grill one up for you on the spot. You can get grilled onions on there, maybe peppers, kraut, mustard... Get the fries for sure.
        Try the local neighborhood farmer's markets for artisan cheeses. Others here know these better than I and I hope they wil share the names and favorites...
        Google "Sea Sack Cheese" for another local favorite
        Quillisascut is another query that will reward, and may get you a trip to Rice, too...
        Is there a sheep's cheese made on Lopez? (TG for google).

    2. Estrella Family Farms is *exceptional* for what they produce- they're at U-district and Ballard both. Try their Chevrette and Brewleggio- hell, try everything. They rock. Sammish Bay makes an excellent young soft cheese, too.


      2 Replies
      1. re: AndrewS

        Another vote for Estrella. Everything they do is music.

        You might find a couple of varieties at Delaurentis or the yuppie supermarkets but like the other posters said, you're better off going to the Ballard (Sunday) or U-District (Saturday) farmers' markets where they set up stands. Then you can try them all if you like and buy what best suits your taste. (I'm partial to Domino)

        1. re: terrier

          Second Dominoes (named for a cow). I also had Brewleggio (“Tallegio” recipe washed in ale donated by the Pike Brewery, raw cow’s milk) last week and it was awesome. YUM.

      2. Skip Beechers. Go to the Ballard farmer's market (Sunday), if possible, and try Estrella and Port Townsend (try the seastack!). Excellent.

        If you're here May 16-17, check out the Seattle Cheese festival at Pike Market.

        4 Replies
        1. re: akq

          Estrella Estrella Estrella. Visit the Ballard Market on Sunday. The Domino is my personal favorite but all of their cheeses are exceptional.

          1. re: Green Eggs and Ham

            Estrella Family Farms is brilliant beyond words and yes, try it all. Samish Bay has spectacular aged gouda and Mount Townsend Creamery's Seastack or Trailhead are divine. These are all at the U-district farmer's market on Saturday morning. If you go into a Metropolitan Market (lower Queen Anne hill or Bryant/ViewRidge neighborhoods) look for Rogue River blue from Oregon - also great and a few good restaurants serve it. Finally, don't skip Beecher's. Their cheese curds are like the crack cocaine of cheese. And you'll certainly go to Pike Place Market anyway so it's just across the street.

            1. re: bourbongal

              Right. If you're at Pike Market anyway, stop in. But don't get your hopes up - Beechers cheese is very mild and not particularly interesting, imo. I was so excited when I heard they were going to sell cheese curds (no more waiting for curds from Tilamook or Wisconsin!), but alas, they have have so little flavor and texture it's just not the same. Bummer.

              1. re: akq

                I agree with you on most of the Beechers cheeses but I really like the Flagship. It has a good sharp taste but retains a relatively creamy texture.

        2. In a month? Any chance that includes May 16-17? If so, you'll catch the annual Seattle Cheese Festival, with samples of artisan cheeses both from local producers and around the world. It's a mob scene --- throngs of people crowding past booths -- but you get to taste everything from local deliciousness to stuff they fly in from Neal's Yard in London.

          Another thumbs up for Estrella. All from raw, grass-fed milk. Real cheese making artists. And they're very generous with samples so you can find what suits you. Most of their cheese is cow, but they sometimes have some goat. I'm also more partial to sheep and goat, but I adore their cheese anyway. Super nice family, too.

          If you can find their stuff, Willapa Hills is a great very young sheep dairy. Their ricotta is delicious!!!! Great blue cheeses as well. Contact them and ask what markets if any they'll be at by that point. Unfortunately, their website lists all these stores that have agreed to sell their stuff, but the reality is I haven't found it in any of those stores. Their website is

          Beecher's isn't really unique, special or artisan in my book -- their stuff is pretty standard and uninteresting cheddar made of cow milk. But the shop is a nice stop, and their counter has a handful of regional cheeses from WA, ID, OR, and CA.

          Port Madison Farm sells fresh young goat cheese and a few local stores like Madison Market and PCC, and at some farmers markets (I've seen him at U-District and Columbia City, off the top of my head). His simple chevre is nice, and when he's making aged goat cheeses they can be quite extraordinary and delicious. Those are only available at the farmers market. Since you say you liked aged cheeses, go for whichever one is gooeyest. He's also generous with samples and a really nice guy (has given me cheese making advice in my novice goat cheese making experiments).

          Mount Townsend is also nice - I like the Sea Stack and their plain, spreadable fresh cheese. Also all from grass-fed milk, but again, might be just cow.

          There's another dairy that's been selling cheeses from various kinds of milk at the U-District market lately. They always have a glass jar of mozzarella balls, and a case of some interesting aged cheeses. Their stuff's pricey for my grad school budget these days (so, sadly for me, is Estrella's), so I think I've only bought something once. But check them out.

          There used to be a French guy who sold cheese at some of the markets years ago. Anyone know who I mean or what happened to him?

          If you can get to North Central Washington (Wenatchee, Leavenworth), Alpine Lakes Creamery makes a wonderful aged sheep cheese. They sell it at Anjou Bakery in Wenatchee, a nice stop. Of course, that's about three hours from Seattle. Call the creamery and see if they're selling anywhere closer these days (and please let us all know!


          Aha! I just found this website I was looking for -- scroll down the left side for a list of artisan cheese makers in Oregon and Washington: (mmm, lots of great cheese in Oregon too -- don't miss the Portland farmers market on Saturday if you're ever there


          Enjoy your trip! Hope you get good weather and enjoy lots of delicious cheese.


          6 Replies
          1. re: seattledebs

            The fresh mozz and aged cheese case is most likely River Valley Ranch , a local goat farm dairy in Fall City. They've recently been visited by Peter Dixon, the same cheese guru who helped Estrella and Mt Townsend perfect their recipes a few years ago.

            And I'd bet that the awesome French cheeses you remember are from Monteiillet Fromagerie from way over in Dayton, WA near Walla Walla. You can still find their cheese at some local shops and for sure at Portland farmers markets. I remember an ash and leaf wrapped goat's cheese that was sublime.

            1. re: choweater

              Yes, I think Monteillet sounds right. Thanks! Wow, yet another reason I'd love to get back to the Portland farmers market soon.


              1. re: seattledebs

                After the long thoughtful reply you took the time to post to help us, I'm happy to see that you gleaned a bit of information too. Cheers!

                1. re: seattledebs

                  Yes, it's Monteillet! That couple make the most WONDERFUL cheese and they do it with love. They are reliably at the Portland farmer's market and sometimes at Pike Place. They've told me before that if you call and they aren't too busy with lambing or the like that they'll ship.

                  The cheese shop in my neck of the woods (Quel Fromage in B'ham) has some fabulous local cheeses-- the owner recently imported some exceptional stuff from Saltspring Island in BC.

              2. re: seattledebs

                Thanks for the info on Alpine Lake Creamery - we'll be staying overnight in Wenatchee later this week and will look for the Anjou Bakery and the aged sheep cheese...

                1. re: RWCFoodie

                  Oh good! Anjou's baked goods are also lovely.

              3. There's a goat cheese maker on Saltspring Island that specializes in pretty packages
                I don't know if anyone in the US sells them, but since you have a month, it might be worth your while taking a trip up there.

                2 Replies
                1. re: paulj

                  No two ways about it, Estrella's & Mt Townsend's Sea Stack are now high on our list, & the some of the others mentioned look real good too. Unfortunately we're not going to be in the city on Saturday or Sunday so we'll miss the farmer's markets, & we only found out about the annual Cheese Festival after buying air tix for later in the month. Regardless, with all your great ideas it's still going to be a fine cheese adventure, thank you all. I only wish we'd found out about Chowhound in 2006. We drove right through Port Townsend & didn't know about the creamery.

                  By 'exceptional' I meant regional cheese that was actually good & unlike things made elsewhere. We've tried some Texas & Arizona wines, fr'instance. Yes, they're locally made; they're also mostly not nearly as good as most low-end national brands & 3x-5x too expensive. We've tried some locally made cheese in other regions that, yes, was locally made but wasn't any better than the national brands found in every major. That's what I was trying to convey by the phrase 'exceptional regional cheese.'

                  Thank you all for including those links, too, that's much appreciated. A whole website about PNW cheese, & a book about the region due out next month too, no less. Excellent.

                  We once had some curds in Wisconsin that had been made that morning, only a few hours earlier. Ah, yes... but that was a few years ago & we haven't had fresh curds since. (Hint: if your curds lose their squeak put'em in the microwave a few seconds & they'll bounce right back.) That same trip we made a pilgrimage to Colby, WI, & stopped by the creamery that invented Colby. The bored clerk behind the counter seemingly couldn't have cared less. Oh well. We were happy to've seen the place.

                  Thanks again for all the good ideas. Seattle's now going to become more itself instead of simply another big city.


                  1. re: FishTales

                    If you're looking for a nearby island adventure, consider a trip out to Vashon and visit Sea Breeze Farm: working farm (with cow's milk cheese), wine cellar, restaurant, and retail.