Last weekend, Mr. Cheesemonger and I drove from San Francisco up to Portland, Oregon, to visit some family for the 4th of July weekend. The first mistake we made when planning the trip was to underestimate driving time. It’s an 11-hour drive! That’s nearly twice as long as the drive to Central Point, where Rogue Creamery, one of our favorite makers, is located.
Luckily, that meant we could stop by Rogue on the way up! Because Rogue has been touting this cheese vault sale on its Facebook page for a while, I knew it was going on. However, I completely underestimated what my slightly crazed reaction to it would be. We reached the creamery at a point when I was feeling cranky about the prospect of sitting in the car for 5-6 more hours. We followed the arrows chalked on the driveways to the back of the cheese-making facility–into a refrigerator.
All crankiness vanished once we were inside. There were stacks and stacks of boxes filled with cheese (duh). We could have gotten ourselves some 5 lb. bags of cheese curds, or some massive blocks of cheddar, or touvelle. Instead, though, we opted mainly for the blue cheeses. I did get a 4 oz. block of lavender Touvelle, though. But the blues! There were stacks of wheels for sale! And they were ridiculously cheap, as in $29/wheel. Since Mr. Cheesemonger likes the crumbly, slightly sweet Crater Lake, I grabbed one wheel. I also bought about 8 or 9 pieces of 3 oz. chunks of Oregonzola, Crater Lake, Smokey Blue, and Oregon Blue. Who cares if the expiration date on most of the pieces is in 2008 or 2009? Blue cheese is already so moldy, it probably doesn’t matter. And they did taste just fine afterward!
After we paid for our new acquisitions, I felt uneasy. We hadn’t seen any Caveman Blue, both Mr. Cheesemonger’s and my favorite Rogue cheese, and I felt there just had to be some. Plus, with the cheese at such a great price, I felt I should try to find at least one more wheel to take home. Never mind that we already had about 7 lbs. of cheese, three of which were destined for the family we were visiting in Portland. I headed back into the cheese vault.
Inside the vault, I saw one corner of cheese that I had not yet inspected. The foil-wrapped wheels were unmarked. I asked the attendant in the vault what that could be. “Those are Caveman Blue.” My eyes went wide, I think I gasped, and I immediately swooped to gather a wheel up, cradle it in my arms, and made a beeline back to the register. Success! I was satisfied. The attendant probably thought I was crazy.
I opened the wheels when we arrived in Portland. I was surprised that the Crater Lake wasn’t blue at all, but was filled with many weepy crevices. Hey, it still tasted fine, being very creamy and sweet. My little niece loved it. The Caveman Blue elicited caveman-like grunts of pleasure from the males in the household. Its beefy flavor and silky texture (with some crystals throughout!) made for a great snack.
Now, I need to find some good recipes involving blue cheese so I can use some of this up! I still have a ton of Old World Portuguese cheese from Spring Hill Cheese that I’ve been trying to cook with. I swear, the cheese in my fridge is reproducing or something, because each time I open the door, I find more of it.