I’ve been teasing, haven’t I? All this talk of staying under budget and The Big Reward I was going to get, and I never got around to telling what The Big Reward was.
Well, the wait is over:
The prize is gold…Cougar Gold. I know I’m “outing” myself somewhat, but what-the-hey. Our local university has some fairly incredible departments, one of which is Food Science. They make ice cream, which is sold at a shop on campus and one in town; sausage, known as Cougar Links (be careful if you google-search for ‘cougar’ and ‘sausage’); and the aforementioned cheese. It is truly incredible. It’s packed in a tin can; they’ve used the same strain for bacteria for 70 years; its
shelf fridge life is legendary; and, the cans are very useful as well. And the flavor…it’s hard to describe.
It’s sharp, but not entirely like other cheddars; I’m reminded of Asiago, Parmesian, even blue. It’s crumbly, but it shreds well; we’ll have it on spaghetti, for instance, and it’s heavenly with a Pinot Gris. As it warms from storage temperature, a creamy sweetness emerges that is worth a long drive to experience. It’s made locally, of course, with milk from eastern Washington, and is truly a symbolic product of this region.
The only thing is…it’s kinda spendy. At $22 for a 30-oz. tin, it’s almost $12 per pound. While that’s not really all that much for good, handmade cheese, it’s out of our reach for everyday commerce. We wait for the Tillamook baby blocks to go on sale, or buy a 2-lb. bag of shredded blend at $6. This is a potential shift-point, though; if we had the funds for it, this is just the sort of product we would buy instead of the cheap stuff that we do.