This time of year, the ride from Walla Walla to the Fromagerie is a breath-taking trip through the golden foothills of the Blue Mountains. Cattle dot the landscape; wheat fields are in all stages of green and golden; and farmhouses are tucked in shaded canyons as well as in plain sight along the curving highway. It’s a lovely drive.
I was introduced to the Monteillet Fromagerie at the Saturday Portland Farmers’ Market years ago. That’s where I met cheesemaker Pierre-Louis Monteillet and had the chance, week after week, to taste a variety of his fresh, hand-ladled goat- and sheep-milk cheeses. Monteillet is a friendly, generous man who is eager to share his knowledge and his cheeses. For someone new to the world of artisanal chevres (goat) and brebis (sheep) cheeses, his lessons are delectable. (Trust me, you won’t be able to resist the subtle, nutty flavor of his Larzac, a soft ripened goat cheese that’s divided in half by a line of grapeleaf ash.)
From his Web site (www.monteilletcheese.com), I learned that besides the spotless cheese-making building, quaint tasting room and menagerie of free-range chickens, goats, sheep, pigs and six, white Great Pyrenees dogs, who guard and live alongside the dairy flocks, there is even lodging on the 31-acre farmstead. It’s a three-bedroom house with a fully equipped kitchen, including fresh milk and farmstead eggs (Sign me up!).
PS: AND THIS IS IMPORTANT. DON'T BE AFRAID TO DRIVE HERE, EVEN IF YOU THINK THE TASTING ROOM IS CLOSED. JOAN IS ALWAYS THERE, MAKING CHEESE AND WELCOMES YOU WITH OPEN ARMS!!!
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