Sunday, May 20th: A Celebration of Washington Cheese!

Blessed are the cheese makers. And why not? They practice the oldest form of food preservation, after all. Thousands of years ago, long before refrigeration and pasteurization, we lowly humans figured out that if we aged milk in cool caves for a certain period of time, we could make tasty food from it that would last for quite a while without killing us. We didn't necessarily understand that science of it back then, but we did appreciate the whole "trial and error" thing, and making cheese by aging cultured milk in caves seemed to work pretty well. Little did we know then that we were encouraging the healthy microorganisms that make cheese, well, cheese to overpower pathogenic microorganisms through the aging and drying process, resulting it a stable, safe and nutritious food product. We just knew that a) it didn't kill us, b) it gave us energy to get through our chores, and c) it tasted good. (Of course, our "we all really need to be living in protective bubbles" obsessed government regulators of today would have us think this oldest form of food preservation should be banned for our own safety.) Well, in honor of Washington's growing number of great cheese makers, and Seattle Cheese Week, we pay tribute to six wonderful, local cheese makers you will find right here at your Ballard Farmers Market, starting with Sea Breeze Farm (cheeses pictured above), who's motto is, "Legalize Milk!"

Why is Roger Wechsler of Samish Bay Cheese smiling? Maybe it is because he's been winning so many awards lately for his cheeses. Indeed, over just the last two years, five different cheeses of his have won awards at the American Cheese Society Competition. Those cheeses include LadysmithLadysmith with ChivesAged Ladysmith, Labneh and Queso Jalapeno. Stop by Samish Bay's stand today to sample some, and you'll be taking some home with you for sure!

Port Madison Farm makes lovely goat cheeses, from fresh cheeses to aged. Best known perhaps for their wonderful fresh chevre (above), don't miss out on their ashed St. Helens, or their spring cheese, an aged variety. And each year, they seem to add another variety, so stop by to see what they've got now! Just don't get here too late. They always sell out.

And why is Mt. Townsend Creamery's Matthew Day smiling? For much that same reason as Roger is, I imagine. Of the dozen or so varieties of cheeses Mt. Townsend makes, three won awards in recent years from the American Cheese Society, though for my money, they all deserve awards. The award winners are CampfireNew Moon and Seastack. But again, try them all. And frankly, if you aren't eating your bagels and Loki lox with their Truffled Fromage, you are, quite simply, out of your friggin' mind!

Eric Sundstrom of Silver Springs Creamery stands out in his field for his jersey milk products. Literally, in this case, as he stands out in one of his pastures chatting with one of the girls that produce all that beautiful milk. If you haven't ever tried his jersey milk, it is extraordinary. So rich, it is yellow. And so is the jersey yogurt he makes from it. This stuff has a beautiful, rich fat cap on top, with an unsurpassed flavor. And you don't have to take just my word for it. It won first place in the yogurt category in 2010 from the American Cheese Society! Give it a try, and it'll win you over, too.

The Jensens at Golden Glen Creamery have been making cheese up in Bow for years. Located just a few miles from Samish Bay Cheese, they are part of a proud tradition of gouda makers in Washington's Northwest Interior. But they also make cheddarfetafromagefarmstead butter, and much more. Stop by, grab a few toothpicks, and take to full taste test tour to find your favorite(s)!

Hey, there is plenty of local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.