Book Review: Artisan Cheese of the Pacific Northwest

June 4, 2010

Growing up, my folks would usually stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory on the way to visit my aunt further down the Oregon Coast. As I got older, my parents stopped going there as much. For starters, Tillamook Cheese Factory went from open vats that were worked by humans to a closed system done by machines. Not only did it make it less interesting to watch, but it also changed the flavor of the cheese into something blander. As the company got larger and began distributing nationwide, the practices of the company became more corporate like – they even tried to sue other companies in Tillamook for using Tillamook in their name, citing that it creates confusion between products, and if the other products are inferior, that reputation would become latched on to the cheese from there. Very un-neighborly, as some of these companies had verbal agreements with the Cheese Factory, and I believe every business should have rights to use the name of the town and county they are in (see Controversy). In fact, Tillamook is a Native American name, so the Natives should be making the Factory change its name if they are going to have that attitude. As former dairy farmers, these practices made us stop buying Tillamook Cheese.

So when I was at Powell’s Book and spotted Artisan Cheese of the Pacific Northwest by Tami Parr, I was quite excited. Here was a book that mapped out all the little craft cheese makers in my neck of the woods! Later, after attending the 16th Annual Spring Beer & Wine Fest back and Tour de Cheese back in April, I realized that most of the immediate area’s craft cheeses were represented at this festival.

Parr has a map on following the Table of Contents showing to the cheese makers in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, and then breaks the book down into sub regions such as Southwest Washington or the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Each site is then named, tells who the owners are, where it is located, visitor hours, and any contact information and then the styles of cheese they make, grouped by fresh or aged. It shows the company logo, and maybe a few pictures while it talks about the company, farm, cheese, or anything else to help establish a connection with them. At the time of publication in 2009, there were 15 cheese makers in British Columbia, 31 in Washington, 17 in Oregon, and 3 in Idaho for a total of 66 cheese makers, excluding Tillamook and any of their sub companies.

The appendixes of the book contains a glossary of cheese terms, cheese basics including an explanation of styles, how to buy, care for, store, and serve cheese,  and how to pair cheese with wine, beer, and other spirits. The appendixes also contain information regarding where to buy these cheeses by region, and a small section of recipes obtained from the cheese makers and including a suggested cheese course using regional northwest cheeses. The last part of the appendix would be my favorite – a listing of northwest cheese makers by milk source, broken down by state. That allows quickly look up only cow’s milk cheese makers.


2 Responses to “Book Review: Artisan Cheese of the Pacific Northwest”

  1. […] attraction in Tillamook is the cheese factory, but we had both been there before, and I have some issues with the factory these days.  So we went to the Blue Heron French Cheese Company. The Blue Heron has a little bit […]

  2. […] in California, Oregon, and Washington”, so my expectation is kind of a new and expanded Artisan Cheese of the Pacific Northwest (though without Idaho and British Columbia). Smartly, the book starts with a map of each state with […]

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