One of the seminars The Lady attended at the 2010 ACS Cheese-a-topia featured cheeses from the Pacific Northwest and cheesemakers and cheese hounds who specialize in the same. Tami Parr, of the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project and author of Artisan Cheeses of the Pacific Northwest, served as moderator. Four cheeses were tasted: WSU’s Cougar Gold, Willamette Valley Cheese Company’s Boerenkaas, Sally Jackson’s Raw Sheep Milk (all of which I have reviewed in the past) and Kurtwood Farms’ Dinah. Notes on the entire seminar will be uploaded here in the next few weeks.
Kurt Timmermeister, the owner of Kurtwood Farms and the cheesemaker who created Dinah spoke on the panel and told us how he came to be a cheesemaker and dairy farmer. He studied in Paris, looking forward to a life in Foreign Service; but Paris brought out his love of food and restaurants. When he graduated, he returned to Seattle and began a career in food service. A series of jobs in kitchens and dining room led to him opening his own café at the age of twenty-four. For the next two decades he opened a series of even larger cafes while exploring small-scale farming.
In 1991 he bought four acres on Vashon Island; land that became Kurtwood Farms. He cleaned the land off and planted fruit and nut trees. Over time, Kurt bought more land and built a pasture and added sheep, pigs and cows. By 2003, he left the restaurant business and Kurtwood Farms became his full-time job.
He built a professional kitchen to process the food grown on the farm to prepare dinners of greater quality for friends to gather. After acquiring a Grade A Dairy license, Kurt began to milk his small Jersey herd. That led to building an underground cheese cave and began producing Dinah, a fresh, bloomy rind farmstead cheese.
He makes 300 8 ounce rounds of Dinah a week and after thirty days of aging, he delivers the cheese himself, in his pick-up to a select number of restaurants and cheese shops in the Seattle area. His two dogs ride along with Kurt to keep him company.
Kurt is also making a second cheese, Francesca, which is an eight pound round of aged Grana Padano-style hard cheese which he hopes to have on the market by the fall of 2011.
One obstacle he encountered was finding equipment to fit his “smaller” operation. No company in the US made a vat in the forty-gallon size and he ended up buying equipment from Slovenia and Netherlands.
Dinah was his first Jersey cow, who has since passed, and today his herd consists of eleven and he milks three or four regularly.
Dinah, the Camembert-style cheese is made using slow-pasteurized milk, in hopes of keeping the milk’s character and fatty tones. It is hand ladled into molds and after thirty days is “ready for its close-ups” in Seattle.
For someone who professes to not really know what he is doing, Kurt delivers a superior cheese that captured the heart of The Lady. She said you can taste the Jersey but not the barn. It oozes and literally melts in your mouth. It is buttery and splendidly delicious. Sometimes the bloomy rind can be a bit on the mushroomy side; not this one; it’s more like eating a cloud.
The Lady gives Dinah 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got to lend her). She gives Kurt only the best; she greatly admires those who fly by the seat of their pants and aren’t afraid to try something new…
Serving Suggestions: Schmear a wedge of this on a warm baguette and enjoy.
Wine Pairing: Using the theory of pairing wine and cheese from the same region, The Lady suggest Vashon Winery’s Semillon.
Beer Pairing: Iron Horse Brewery’s Malt Bomb Brown Ale
Source: Slow-Pasteurized Jersey Cow Milk