Too bad it wasn’t when I went to the Pike Place Market Cheese Festival — which was still a mob scene, rain and all! It was so crowded that I left after trying the two cheeses that I was mainly interested in–and both were worth the fight.
1. Estrella Family Creamery
I can’t decide if I’m more in love with their deliciously rich cheese, made daily at the family dairy in Montesano, Washington (both French Laundry and Dean & Deluca are fans of this small creamery) or the family story!
The family makes at least eighteen cave-aged types of cheese using raw milk from animals grazed in their organically maintained pastures. Estrella’s Caldwell Crik Chevrette a blended cow/goat milk cheese and their Grisdale Goat both won silver medals in the prestigious 2007 World Cheese Awards in London, UK. as well as numerous national awards.
The “Family Story” is even more interesting. Estrella’s adopted six children (her latest three cheese-making children were adopted 2 years ago from an orphanage in war-ton Liberia) all help out at the farm from feeding and milking the animals, to bathing the cheese in wine, to helping search for a stray pregnant heifer.
“It was part of my vision,” Estrella said. “What if we raised kids with a work ethic? How would that be?These kids have seen stuff,” Estrella said of Ruth, Patience and Ernest. “Ruth wasn’t going to get out of the country. They said if she didn’t get adopted really soon that she was too old. People don’t like to adopt older kids. Ruth was praying for a family. I thought, ‘Why not?’ Then they said, ‘Do you want to adopt two more? Sometimes people say, ‘Why did you adopt a bunch of black babies?’ We just wanted babies,” Estrella said. “I remember specifically looking at the dinner table one day and there were all these empty chairs. It was like, ‘Something doesn’t seem right. How come we have so much and some people have too little? For us, adoption meant we could have children. They all came to us. You find out the heart can stretch further than you know’.”