Buttery, Salty, and Gloriously Creamy… Raclette season is here!

raclette 2images

CHEESE of the MONTH (through October 31)
Spring Brook Farm Reading Raclette $1.50 off/pound
A semi-soft Raclette-style cheese ideally suited for melting over vegetables, bread, or meats, yet it can stand alone on any cheese plate.

Robin Elwood, Guest cheese-blogger

One of the best parts of any given day at the Co-op is talking about cheese. So when Downtown Cheeseboss Stephanie Willard asked me to write a few words about Raclette, I was immediately enthusiastic. Unfortunately, I’d never tried it, so I had to ask her a few questions.

“Cheese can be just as seasonal as fruits or vegetables,” she said. “Raclette is definitely a fall and winter cheese; it’s comforting and warm and gooey. In cold weather, you melt it almost like a fondue, and eat it with bread and vegetables.”

She went on to say that Raclette is a soft cow’s milk cheese, aged at least 2 months.

Both the Cordata and Downtown stores carry an imported traditional Raclette. Solaipro Raclette Latte Cru can be described as dense and compact, yet supple, and is about 45% milk fat. As tradition dictates, it is also a little bit stinky. Recently, both stores also picked up an artisanal domestic Raclette-style cheese from Spring Brook Farm in Vermont. Reading Raclette is not only true to tradition, it is produced by the “Farms for City Kids” program which provides hands-on farming programs where urban youth explore new dimensions of learning as academics are integrated into everyday farm activities that practice and teach sustainability.

The name Raclette comes from the French verb Racler, meaning “to scrape.” That’s a traditional way to eat it; melting it as you go, and scraping the melted parts onto whatever you are eating.

Steph told me that she and some friends were going to make a meal of Raclette that evening. In the meantime, she suggested I ask Downtown deli cook Paul Manthe about Raclette’s history. Paul’s family came from Switzerland, and he seems to know most things about food. He also happens to have a great sense of humor. Here are his thoughts:

“Raclette was originally a cow-herders dish. Basically, it consisted of breaking open a wheel of cheese, partially melting it over an open fire, and scraping up the melted cheese with whatever you had; bread chunks, potato slices, polenta, pickles, cured meats, whatever. Like most Swiss cow-herder dishes, it’s just some stuff that’s left over, and you make the best of it. These days, they also sell little burner apparatuses and spirit lamps, so you can serve it individually, but that’s for non-Swiss and soft flatlanders. Real Swiss hold it over the fire with their hand until it’s very soft, (the cheese, not the hand), scrape the cheese off onto a plate with a knife, and eat it.”

A few days later, I asked Stephanie about her Racclette dinner party.

“It was really amazing!” she said. “At room temperature, it’s a fairly tangy, ‘stinky’ cheese. Roasting it, it suddenly becomes buttery, salty, and gloriously creamy. It goes great with everything.”

Steph melted the cheese by putting it in a small cast-iron skillet and baking it in a fairly hot oven. When it became soft and began to bubble at the edges, she took it to the table, where hungry guests and a variety of crudités waited. They dipped into it with cauliflower, bread, potatoes, and Brussels sprouts.

I asked Steph how Raclette held up as leftovers. Was it still great reheated?

“Tragically, it was really fabulous, and we ate WAY too much of it,” she lamented. “There were no leftovers, so we just don’t know.” Luckily, both cheese departments slice the wheels up and sell it by the pound, so if you’d like to make your own experiment with alpine cheese, you know where to go.





       We are nearly a week into our Eat Local Month here in Bellingham. Have you been indulging in the fruits of our farmer’s labor? It’s hard to not eat local with all the amazing produce, meats, and dairy around these parts. 
       One of my favorite local cheeses that the Forest Street Specialty Cheese Department carries is Gothberg Farms. Though they are in Skagit County, it’s close enough for me! They are our good neighbors to the South.
       We recently went to visit the farm and talk with Rhonda, the owner. Kendal was good enough to take notes and write up this overview of our field trip.

      In the beautiful countryside of Bow, Washington, sits Gothberg Farms. The Community Food Co-op has carried Gothberg’s Farmstead goat cheeses for many years, and we were really looking forward to seeing the source firsthand. Upon arriving at the farm, we were immediately greeted by the founder and owner, Rhonda Gothberg. A small table was set up out front with Gothberg Greek Style Yogurt with local honey and strawberries from down the road. It was so incredibly delicious. The Greek style yogurt can be bought at the Bellingham Farmers Market on Saturdays or directly from the farm.
      After enjoying the delightful spread, we ventured into the milking area, where from behind the glass we had a nice view of the very sterile cheese-making space. A list of names was written on the dry erase board — Eliza, Melba, Gizzelle; every goat on the farm is named. We were then, finally, allowed to see the baby goats! BABY GOATS! The happy healthy babies chewed on our clothing and ran around in circles as we all gushed over them. Seriously, there isn’t much that is cuter than 3-month-old baby LaMancha goats.
      Rhonda’s goats give birth to 2-5 babies at once. They stay with their mothers until the mom is ready to venture back to the herd. The little ones get the milk first; what’s left is made into cheese. While Rhonda and her longtime employee Debbie spend many sleepless nights in the maternity pen, helping the mommas give birth, some babies are born in the pasture.
       Gothberg is now in its 5th year of its Animal Welfare Approved Certification. Goats are never neglected, abused, mistreated, or sold at auction. They have fresh water daily, trimmed feet, and they even get rose petals in their bowls every spring. “I don’t want our goats to have one bad day,” explained Rhonda.
      From ensuring their feed provides nutrients for longevity and good health, as well as it being non-GMO and free of byproducts, hers truly are happy goats.
       As we listened to Rhonda speak of her farm and her goats, it was clear that she is in her element. So much consideration goes into caring for the animals, the land they graze on, and her employees — you can definitely taste the love in the final product.
       We’re honored to carry Gothberg cheese at our downtown location. Gothberg Farms offers all of us such amazing cheese.

If you are ever in the area, keep an eye out for the “Open Today” sign and stop by the farm to check out their honor box system of buying cheese. They make it easy for you to buy some of their cheese, with prices listed on each piece and a change container to make change. They encourage cash, but someone is always around to help check out with a credit card. 

Gothberg Farms
15203 Sunset Rd
Bow, WA 98232

Summer and Burrata!

Summer is in full effect here in the Pacific Northwest! To me, that means running in the woods on dry trails (finally!), swimming, picking fruit and berries, drinking bubbly pink wines and eating fresh cheese!  One of my favorite summer cheeses, aside from the AMAZING chevre we get fresh every week from Gothberg Farms in Bow, is Burrata. Belgioioso is the brand we carry and they describes it best;

“This fresh cheese resembles a Fresh Mozzarella ball, but when split open, you will be delighted to discover a rich-tasting soft filling of fresh pieces of Mozzarella soaked in heavy cream. This cheese offers a sweet, milky flavor that gently fills the palate.”

For a friend’s birthday party last weekend, I lightly pickled some honeydew melon, and placed two balls of burrata on top. It was served with thin slices of baguette. It was incredible and devoured! It is equally delicious served in place of fresh mozzarella in a Caprese salad or with fresh figs.

The downtown specialty cheese department will be carrying this until the sun’s rays shorten. You still have time! Go run, or pick fruit! Swim in the sound and eat fresh cheese! Embrace it while we have it.

Below is the recipe I followed for the pickled melon. Enjoy!




  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 1 pound Sharlyn, honeydew or  Galia melon, rind removed, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 large heirloom tomato, sliced
  • 12 ounces fresh burrata or mozzarella, torn
  • Olive oil (for drizzling)
  • Fresh basil leaves (for serving)
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • Combine vinegar, kosher salt, ¼ tsp. pepper, and 2 Tbsp. water in a large bowl; add melon and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes.
  • Remove melon from pickling liquid and 
arrange on a platter with tomato and burrata. Drizzle with oil and some pickling liquid, top with basil, and season with sea salt and pepper.
  • DO AHEAD: Melon can be pickled 2 hours ahead. Cover and chill.


Tomato, Pickled Melon and Burrata Salad photo


A Cheese of the Month Exclusive: Meadowkaas

Allow me to introduce you to my new favorite cheese: Meadowkaas. I knew I loved this cheese as soon as I saw it. As I pulled the wheel of cheese out of its box, I noticed the graphic on it depicted the most quaint Dutch meadow I could imagine. I wanted to be there. The wheel was covered in smooth wax, begging to be cut into. See for yourself:


I have been waiting for this cheese for months and now that it is here, I cannot get enough of it. I’d like you to meet our June Cheese of the Month, Meadowkaas from Uniekaas. It is a spring milk gouda from Holland. This cheese is incredibly special because it is only available for three months out of the year, so enjoy it while you can!

Every spring, tiny slivers of green begin breaking their way through the previously frozen pasture soil. The farmers, affineurs, cheesemongers, patrons and cows of Meadowkaas have been waiting all winter for this glorious sign. As the first grass of spring grows, the cows are put out to pasture to feed on Holland’s bounty. This delicious nutrient-dense grass is the whole reason Meadowkaas exists. The cows that feed on the first spring grass produce milk with a fat content of over 50%. This translates into amazing cheese; Amazing, buttery, decadent, creamy, salty, cheese.

Through the end of June, we are featuring Meadowkaas at $1 off per pound.

We will also be doing a tasting on June 26, 2014. 11 AM to 2 PM Downtown and 3 PM to 6 PM at Cordata.

I invite everyone to come by either store and fall in love with Meadowkaas as much as I have!


Ashley H.


Cheese of the Month – Sartori BellaVitano

It’s time for you to try something new! Introducing our May Cheese of the Month: Sartori Raspberry and Balsamic BellaVitano.



Stephanie and I are absolutely in love with anything Sartori.  We were lucky enough to visit the Sartori Headquarters in Wisconsin back in September last year.  What an amazing experience! We had the opportunity to try just about every single cheese Sartori produces.  We met Pam Hodgson who was the second woman EVER to receive her Master Cheesemaker Certification through a rigorous 13+ years of study and dedication. Now that’s something not every cheese company can boast about.

Not only does Sartori have the most beautiful test kitchen I have ever seen (seriously, where can I get a kitchen like that for my house?!?) but they also make some beautiful cheeses.  BellaVitano is just one line of many that Sartori knocks out of the park.

Both Cordata and our Downtown stores are featuring the Raspberry and Balsamic varieties of BellaVitano.  Here’s what Sartori has to say about BellaVitano:

A Sartori-family original, this rich, creamy cheese with its nutty, fruity flavor is also — in all modesty — a celebrated gold-medal winner. Inspired by traditional, Italian farmstead cheese, BellaVitano Gold begins in the mouth like a premium Parmesan and finishes in award-winning style with hints of melted butter. This is where our artisan cheesemaking first began to shine.

Now imagine that cheese bathed in raspberry or balsamic vinegar.  It doesn’t get much more decadent than that.

If you don’t believe me when I say these cheeses are amazing, check out the list of awards they have received.

Both cheeses are being featured at $5.79.  Regularly $6.29.  Come into our stores on Friday, May 23, 2014 to try them for yourself.

Demo Times:

Downtown: 10 AM to 2 PM

Cordata: 3 PM to 7 PM

Thank you!


Cheese of the Month – Brie Le Pommier

I would like to introduce you to April’s Cheese of the Month, Brie Le Pommier!


“For too long Americans have had to suffer with bland Brie that is nothing like what’s available in France. Thanks to renowned Affinuer, Herve Mons, we can now enjoy a Brie with a true French flavor profile. Every step of the production from the finest quality milk to the right cultures has been worked out by Herve to produce the first Brie in the US that really tastes like Brie. Low temperature pasteurization allows more flavor development that is often associated with a raw milk Brie. Complex and rich garlic, mushroom, and earthy notes.”

This is a newer product for both cheese departments, and it has been a hit with everyone that tries it.  I’m a serious fan of this cheese. Well, there aren’t many cheeses I’m not a fan of.

It’s priced at $17.99 /LB which is a steal for a brie of this quality.  However, for the month of April, both specialty cheese departments are offering $2 off per pound. Amazing. 

Please join us on Saturday, April 19, 2014 to try this amazing cheese along with salami and cracker pairings:

10 AM to 1 PM at our Downtown location

1 PM to 4 PM at our Cordata location

We look forward to seeing you in our stores!

Thank you!

-Ashley H.



Welcome to Fresh from the Fromagerie!

Hello and welcome to the Community Food Co-op’s brand new blog, Fresh from the Fromagerie, where Stephanie Willard and I will introduce you to all things new and exciting happening in the Co-op Specialty Cheese Departments. Steph and I have some amazing things in the works for you all, and I cannot wait to share them with you.

First things first, this blog. We wanted a way to really be able to connect with the community on a level we don’t normally get to explore in the store.  Often our interactions with you are brief, as we help you locate something or offer our personal recommendations. But what Stephanie and I really love to do at work is talk to people about cheese and all that comes with it.  In fact, we are always open to answer your questions or discuss products when we are on the sales floor so if you see us, say “Hello!” If you don’t see us, please let a deli employee know you are looking for us and if we are there, we will meet you. We see this blog as an opportunity to share with you those moments that we miss in between the hustle and bustle of daily life on the sales floor.  We invite you to follow our blog to stay up to date on the latest sale information, new product announcements, local vendor spotlights, and anything else Stephanie and I wish to share with you!

Here are some things to keep an eye out for:

Cheese of the Month Program:

Every month, we will have an item or product line featured in our departments.  These items will be offered on sale, and we will be doing regular tastings of them.  They may be part of our regular inventory, or something we just bring in for that month to share with you. We are looking to increase exposure to some of our products that people may have not tried before, and introduce the community to new items we think are quite wonderful.  These items will be advertised here on our blog, on Facebook, and in the Co-op’s e-newsletter!

New Cheese Signs:

We have all new cheese signage in the works for you! Each sign will feature the name of the cheese, country of origin, price, and a variety of icons to help you identify the exact product you desire.  By looking at the sign, you will be able to tell if the cheese is raw or pasteurized, organic, grass-fed, local, cow, sheep, or goat,  if it features vegetarian rennet, what the price is, and read a short description.  Not only are the new signs beautiful and easy to look at, but we hope that they will make your experience shopping in our departments easier and more informative!

Thank you for being a part of our community. We hope you enjoy all that is to come in the Specialty Cheese departments at the Co-op!

-Ashley H.