FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Some Tasty Opportunities

by Patricia Vanikiotis

Mar 20, 2021

My recent blogs (here and here) have shared my experiences with local food festivals that have gone virtual this year. The Oregon Chocolate Festival offered patrons several opportunities to enjoy chocolate in several forms and in pairings with different foods and drinks and showcased in several informative and entertaining videos. This past weekend, over what would have been the Oregon Cheese Guild‘s 17th Cheese Festival, we enjoyed the Guild’s 2021 Fest-to-Go, and as with the recent virtual Chocolate Festival, found much to appreciate in this new COVID-conscious version.

As soon as I heard about the Fest-to-Go, I hopped online and ordered up our tasting kit, a large tote bag loaded up with over 5 pounds of a variety of cheeses, along with a few accompaniments. It turns out they sold all 500 of the kits they had prepared, Cheese Guild Fest-to-Go  so I’m glad I ordered mine right away. Considering what we’d pay for tasting tickets at the live event, plus the cheeses and other goodies we always buy there, I found the $95 price tag a good deal. The tasting kits would not be shipped but could be picked up over the course of two days at local host and Cheese Guild member Rogue Creamery. (It was a drive-through event requiring no direct contact, so very safe.)

We picked up our tote on Friday afternoon and were tempted to dive in immediately, Cheese Guild Fest-to-Go but we decided to wait and follow along with the live tasting event posted on Facebook Live on Saturday afternoon. I was able to print off tasting notes provided online by the Guild for all 14 (!) cheeses in advance, and they proved invaluable. Each entry provided the name of the cheese, the producing creamery and its web address, followed by a brief description of the cheese, the milk type (cow, sheep, goat or a blend), whether it was pasteurized, tasting notes, suggestions for pairing with food and/or drink, and where it could be purchased. As we tasted and watched the tasting video. we scribbled in our own impressions for future reference (and wine and cheese tastings).

We brought the cheeses out of the fridge more than 30 minutes before the tasting began (allowing them to breathe and warm up a bit for maximum flavor) and added a few items to our table to accompany the cheese: sourdough bread, crackers, sliced apples, prosciutto and aged salami, and some crisp veggies.  Cheese Guild Fest-to-Go Our bag also included a jar of Vintner’s Kitchen marionberry jam with port, Effie’s Homemade oatcake biscuits and an Oregon sea salt dark chocolate bar from Ranger Chocolate Company. Oh, and of course we had some wine, SuLei Cellars 2018 Alborino from Walla Walla. Who needs dinner?

Our hosts for the tasting were Katie Bray from the Cheese Guild and Trish Glose, a local news anchor and foodie. They introduced each cheese, which was accompanied by a short video from the cheesemaker and producing creamery. It was really nice to be transported all over the state and see the animals, the production process and even the families and their histories. This was an element one couldn’t get across the board at the live event (although one might get the chance to chat with a cheesemaker occasionally). Food and drink pairings were highlighted, with suggestions even offered up by viewers typing in their comments. The pace was just right; we had time to try each cheese and sample a few different pairings before moving on to the next.

We started with soft cheeses, from a stringy Queso Oaxaco from Don Froyland Creamery in Salem to a Black Garlic Truffle Chèvre from Portland Creamery. We sampled three “vintages” of Tillamook‘s Maker’s Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar (2016, 2017 and 2018), noting the changes in the characteristics of the cheese the older it got. We also sampled other cheddars, goudas and Rogue Creamery’s Organic Brutal Blue Cheese — exclusively available here in Southern Oregon, made in small quantities and for special occasions.

We had so much cheese that we’ll be sharing it with our kids, and they can access the tasting video and notes as well. This experience really opened our eyes to some different ways to use the cheese and some really different pairings (like the marionberry jam with the blue cheese!). This provided a more relaxed and informative “event” than the live festival could, and while we miss the big gatherings, this Fest-to-Go brought its own unique spirit. We’re looking forward to promises of future such tastings ahead.

— Patty Vanikiotis, associate editor/copy editor

 

 

 

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FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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