Mountain Lodge Farm is the first, and so far only, farmstead creamery that I have visited. They have an open house once a month (I don’t know if this is yearlong or not) where you can go visit, pet some goats, try their cheeses, talk to the cheesemaker, and tour the farm. It is an absolutely beautiful farm, located in the Cascade foothills near Mount Rainier. If you can make it to one of their open houses, go. Seriously. It’s gorgeous. Also, goats! Go.
MLF raises Nigerian Dwarf and La Mancha goats that graze on the land daily. So they munch on things like salal, Douglas fir, and blackberry brambles, which you can totally taste in their cheeses. For real! I had seen grass and other vegetation listed as potential tasting characteristics on a cheese descriptor chart (I have a life, I just choose to ignore it), but this was the first time I ever actually tasted that. This was my first big “Come to Cheesus” moment. I would love to lay claim to that pun, but it’s well known in the cheeseworld. You can taste the farm in their cheeses. You can taste how much everyone who works there cares about the animals and the quality of the product. You can taste that it is a very small production as opposed to something like Cypress Grove’s Humboldt Fog, which is a heavenly cheese, but you can taste that it is a larger production.
Since MLF is only about 25 miles from Mt. Rainier, they name their cheeses after the volcano in their backyard. Paradise is the name of the last stop before the big climb. Paradise is also the name of a delicious soft-ripened goat cheese that MLF makes.
This is their version of a crottin, a French cheese made in the Loire Valley. Paradise is a very apt name for this cheese. I am a huge fan of goat cheeses in general. I love the tanginess of goat milk. So good. In addition to that lovely goaty tang, Paradise has strong grassy notes and some lighter fruity notes. It is absolutely perfect for a summer day. I can imagine it with a ripe, juicy peach, the flavors mingling on my tongue…
Hold on. I need a minute.
Ok. Done fantasizing about cheese. I think this cheese would be amazing with stone fruits, berries, or a little tomato and fresh basil. Mmmmmm…yeah girl. Drizzle some balsamic on that shit.
Alright, so apparently I wasn’t done fantasizing about cheese pairings. Oh well. Whatevs. I do what I want.
Since MLF is such a small creamery, it can be difficult to get their cheeses. In a conversation with their cheesemaker, she said that their distribution depended on how far anyone on the farm was willing to drive. I’ve seen some, but not their full lineup, at a few different cheese shops in Seattle. They have a Sunday Cheese Shop at the farm where you can find their full lineup (duh). Check out their website for specifics of where to find their cheeses.