You Caveman Me Jane

There is something decidedly special about a box. There is. Just ask a cat. (Don’t own a cat? Probably don’t know what I’m talking about then, eh? Go buy a cat and a box.) Although, where felines prefer an empty box, one they will mightily try to squeeze their haunches in, no matter the size, we usually opt for one containing something we desire… gift, a good, a ring, a thing. Thus, when this beautiful little box shows up at the shop, I get more excited than if I watched Santa himself crawl down my stove hood fan bearing a whole bag full of boxes with my name on the labels. Hey, it’s the closest thing I’ve got to a chimney, folks.

 

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“People dedicated to sustainability, service, and the art and tradition of making the world’s finest handmade cheese,” has been Southern Oregon’s Rogue Creamery mission for over 80 years, lending itself to a dairy that has been churning out some of the world’s most delectable cheeses. No, seriously, their cheeses have won countless awards. That is, if you aren’t counting. If you are, you’d tally up over 4 trophies and 30 awards including ‘World’s Best Blue Cheese’ at the 2003 World Cheese Awards in London, a first for a U.S. creamery. They also won the highly coveted ‘Best New Product Award’ for the 2005 Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) Food Show and their famous Rogue River Blue took Best in Show at the 2009 American Cheese Society in Austin Texas.

 

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But, we’re talking about their sublimely perfect Caveman Blue, introduced in 2008, which has won its own set of awards including Bronze at the 2011 Global Cheese Awards and Silver at the 2010 World Championship Cheese Contest. One taste and you’d know why. Hints of sweet vanilla tones, nuances of beef and bacon, whiffs of tropical fruit mixed with grass and hay, with a texture of softened butter – this complex blue is exquisitely luscious and sinfully scrumptious.

 

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Caveman Blue, made from Certified Sustainable Raw Cow’s Milk, has a natural rind that leaves a mess on our gloves and countertops, but that rugged rind allows that flavorful, buttery texture to form and those delightful little cheese crystals to take shape. Well, let’s back up a sec, that rind forms because of a unique six month cave aging technique that Rogue Creamery has specially dedicated to these wheels after years of research and then years of tweaking that research.

 

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Side note – Tom Vella, a legend in the cheese world and the man responsible for the growth of Rogue Creamery back in the 1930s, died at 100-years-old, in 1998, after leading a life that helped cheese production in America become what it is today. His dedication to the business was passed down to one of his sons, Ig who preached his father’s legacy of the value of artisanal products. At the time, most thought he sounded like a complete loon, since mass production and processed goods were on the rise. However, his efforts were soon rewarded as cheese eaters longed for handmade, flavorful, specialty cheeses over the bland squares they found at their marketplaces, and soon Ig was named “The Godfather of the artisan cheese industry.”

Fast forward to now where current Rogue Creamery owners David Gremmels and Cary Bryant, alongside fellow cheesemaker Jason Garcia, have created the most magnificent mouthful of bluey goodness while still holding true to the ideals laid out by the Vellas.  There’s a whole background story on their site detailing the fascinating process behind Caveman’s cave aging and “why Caveman tastes so different from other blues.”  ”Sweet, fruity with vanilla tones, and earthy notes. It’s addictive,” Garcia says. He’s right.

 

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So, come in and give this cheese some goddamned respect already. If you don’t think you like blue, give this one a try. Its sweet buttermilk quality mixed with the smoky bacon fat undertone may just make you change your mind and find you booking your next flight to Oregon to worship at the caves of Caveman Blue.

 

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