Over on the Olympic Peninsula, the wet weather and lush landscapes are pretty similar to the French countryside. And now, there's a creamery putting a Pacific Northwest twist on traditional French cheeses.
Mt. Townsend Creamery has been making a variety of cheeses in Port Townsend for almost a decade: but its soft ripened cheese is what sets them apart from other local cheese makers.
"Someone said 'whatever you make just don't make another gouda,” said CEO and Founder of Mt. Townsend Creamery Ryan Trail. “So we took that as a challenge to come up with something a little more interesting. that someone was not doing."
The cheese wins awards, but it's not easy to make.
"It's a biological process, and we try to direct it to where it wants to go but sometimes it's got a mind of its own," said Trail.
About 20 people work at this creamery, giving cow's milk from Maple View Dairy in Sequim a shot at immortality.
"Sometimes we joke that we're mold farmers," said Trail.
That white mold makes the rind, brings up the all-important question: Do you eat it?
"With the soft ripened cheeses definitely eat the rind, that's kind of part of the product," said Trail.
Ryan and his co-founder Matt Day initially sold their cheese at farmer's markets, where it was discovered' by PCC.
"PCC was one of the first folks who approached us to carry our products," said Trail. "You know they've been really good promoters of local producers in general. And that's always been a big bonus for us, all the things they do for local producers."
"I remember when the very first shipment of this came into PCC," said PCC Chef Lynne Vea. “It was the first soft, ripened handmade local cheese we carried.”
Chef Lynne's advice for enjoying this cheese?
"A lot of people don't know that a soft ripened cheese before it's cut, will continue to ripen," said Vea. "Slightly on the unripened side I would wrap it in a pastry, put it in the oven, serve it with a fabulous little condiment or roasted grapes… And if you have the patience to let it age, eat it as is. Rind and all.”
"When someone tastes our cheese and they're psyched about it,” said Trail. “That's what we really strive for.”
You can find Mt. Townsend Creamery cheese at a lot of local stores and if you happen to be in Port Townsend, stop by their tasting room. They have a big window where you can watch cheese being made -- and they also have samples.
338 Sherman Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368