This Weekend, It’s OK To Be Cheesy

Photo: Coach Farms

Attention dairy lovers: the Seattle Cheese Festival is coming to town!

Lactose intolerant individuals, beware: the seventh annual Seattle Cheese Festival is hitting the avenues of Pike Place Market this weekend. More than 30 creameries will be on hand, presenting their unique flavors from end to end of the city’s most famous thoroughfare. Seattleite was lucky enough to score a sneak peek at Coach Farms, one of the festival’s delicious exhibitors.

Photo: Coach Farms

In 1985, the owners of Coach Farms decided to try their hand at cheese making on their 26-acre spread in upstate New York. Goats were decided upon as the source, and a French cheese maker entered the fold soon afterward. Before long, the brand was producing well-crafted, artisanal cheeses that were being served in establishments all over the country. One of their biggest fans is celebrated restauranteur Mario Batali; he features Coach Farms cheese in more than 10 of his New York, California and Las Vegas eateries.

The company’s success continues to this day under the watch of Mark Newbold, Coach Farm’s head cheese maker. He cites Coach’s superior milk as the starting point for creating delicious, interesting cheeses.

“Coach Farm uses only the grade-A goat milk from our farm to produce our cheese,” he explained. “The quality of cheese is only as good as the quality of its milk source.”

Newbold also noted that, for the sake of strict cleanliness, only desirable bacteria cultures are present in Coach Farm cheese. Unwanted bacteria can cause undesirable flavors to occur, as well as possible spoilage of the product. According to this master cheese maker, it is attention to details like this that sets his company’s cheese apart.

“Our well spelled-out procedures with respect to times, temperatures, and processing methods ensure a consistent and clean tasting product time after time,” said Newbold.

Having sampled a few of Coach Farm’s offerings (strictly for research purposes), I was pleased with the mildness of Newbold’s touch. It’s easy to make a pungent bleu, but a subtle ricotta is something altogether different. Like wine and beer and sex and everything else that’s fantastic on Earth, great cheese takes time and concentrated effort. To Newbold, this mysterious process is half the fun.

“The best part of making cheese is the almost magical way milk can be transformed into a unique tasting, highly nutritional product,” he said. “I understand the science but I’m fascinated by the magic.”

This weekend, Pike Place visitors can taste Coach Farm’s creations for themselves, along with the other delectable samples that will be available. On top of that, there will be plenty of wine tasting and chef demos to pair with these fine cheeses — and thus, maximize your inner foodie. Info on schedules and exhibitors can be found on-line.

Note: crackers will be provided.