One of the biggest thrills of the Hillsdale Farmers Market May Day event, for me, was that I got to acquire a whole wheel of cheese.
Pre-event, Ancient Heritage Dairy Cheesemaker Paul Obringer chatted with me about types of cheese that were available and might pair well with the crisp local grain crackers & rhubarb mostarda that I was going to serve alongside. As he talked, I nibbled samples of uber-creamy, bloomy-rind Adelle, soft, grassy, spring-buttery Valentine, Table Rock reminiscent of a lovely mountain pecorino, and earthy raw-milk Hannah Bridge.
Roaring River, a washed-rind cow’s milk cheese, seemed best suited. This cheese is given a luxurious bath of Merlot wine every few days, then ages for several months. It is rich, earthy, grassy, creamy. I took a piece home, along with 10 pounds of rhubarb, and several packages of local grains. I would pick up my wheel of cheese the day before the event.
There is an aspiration when you’ve finished a dish; a magical moment you hope happens – that moment when the product you produce matches…or exceeds the vision in your mind. The pairing of Roaring River cheese with the rhubarb mostarda and the wafer-thin crisp cracker was pure magic. It was late at night by the time the mostarda was done, and a trial batch of crackers finished baking. It’s hard to contain to yourself such gustatory pleasure when everyone else is sleeping. So I just ate…and ate…a ridiculous amount of cheese, crackers, & mostarda.
A few days later, we served 425 samples of our cheese plate, in one hour, to an enthusiastic crowd of market shoppers. Many thanks to my assistant, Devon Chase, for so quickly slicing an entire wheel of cheese!
Paul Obringer is the proprietor & cheesemaker at Ancient Heritage Dairy. His cheese, and he himself, can be found at Portland Farmers Markets & Hillsdale Farmers Market. Ancient Heritage cheese can also be found on the menus of fine dining local restaurants, as well as at retail shops in Oregon & Washington, and at Murray’s Cheese in NYC.