Maia, a soft-ripened and slightly funky cheese is one among a new line of stunning cow’s milk cheeses from Briar Rose Creamery. ##Photo by Christine Hyatt

Seize the Cheese

Carpe diem at the deli case

By Hilary Berg

Who doesn’t love cheese? O.K., vegans and the lactose intolerant. Although the latter condition is not a lack of affection but more of affliction. They deserve my deepest sympathy.

Editor's Note

Hilary Berg has been the editor of OWP since 2006. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s in journalism. She and her husband own a seven-acre vineyard and winery called Roots.

I can’t imagine a life truly enjoyed without it. First, there’s pizza, a staple at my house, which, when made from scratch, will feature almost every cheese in our fridge.

Sandwiches. I love them. I love cheese on my sandwiches. Cheddar, Swiss, provolone, Havarti, even American. Eighty-six everything but the cheese and bread, grill to a golden brown, and I am happy; add a cup of tomato soup, and I am in “lunch counter” heaven.   

Mac and cheese, quesadillas, lasagna and so many other dishes shine with the perfect kind and amount of cheese; those variables are up to you.

Of course, I’ve been talking about the cheese you buy at most grocery stores.  The wheels and wedges available in deli cases curated by a knife-wielding cheesemonger represent a whole ’nother ball game.

So many kinds (feta, blue, Brie, chèvre, Parmesan...) from all over the world (U.S., France, Spain, England...), produced from different types of milk (cow, sheep, goat), aged for specific amounts of time (none, months, years) and at varying times in the calendar (you know the seasons).

Just like wine, cheese is a culture rich in history, tradition and prestige, requiring great skill and sound stewardship of the land. And, as you know, the two make ideal companions.

Turn to page 34 for magical matchmaking by cheese expert Christine Hyatt and wine steward Erin Palmer of the Portland Wine Cellar. Their all-Oregon selections might lead to your changing dinner plans to a night at home savoring every tiny crumb (or smear), maybe even licking the plate.

This is cheese, you know. No need to be sheepish; enjoy with great gusto! 

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