A Dream Cut Short

Patrick Lee in his element – Sharing his cheese with friends

It has been 17 months since our creative, inquisitive, energetic cheesemaker left this world. My two sons and I kept the vision alive, finishing the Teetoos and Moufette Patrick had made.

Chris Roelli’s Creamery in Shulsburg, WI

I then took on aging two additional makes of Teetoos produced by our good friend Chris Roelli of Roelli Cheese Haus.

We sold to specialty stores in the Portland Metro area as well as grocers as far as Bend and Ashland. We loved seeing our cheese sold by Runcible Cider to pair with local Gorge foods and their amazing ciders.

November and December were rough after my hip fracture. My son stepped up – a lifesaver!

Alas, it is time to close the doors to the aging room. A few remaining wedges are being parceled out as “thank-yous” for so many that have helped me through these difficult months – made worse for us all by the pandemic. The inability to hold demos, host parties, and attend festivals certainly took more of the wind I had left out of my sails. But our fans and retailers have made the hours of cheese washing, cleaning, record keeping and deliveries so worth while! It has been so heartening to hear how much our customers and retailers love Teetoos! Patrick created a very special cheese and he would be pleased we kept his dream alive for these months.

Thank you to everyone who supported us through this brief cheesemaking journey. We learned so much, made new friends, and treated many to a beautiful alpine-style cheese.

Our last sale to our friends at Providore Fine Foods – January 2022

Observations in the Affinage

It’s been nearly 6 months since I assumed full responsibility for Pascal Affinage. I’ve become a dedicated cheese washer and meticulous cleaner – those of you who have spent many years coaxing milk into beautiful, luscious cheeses can relate. But it is not a life of tedium. When I enter the aging room in the morning, its shining floor and orderly arrangement welcomes me. I love order! A peak into the cave rewards me with the glow of cheese wheels showing off the texture and hues of an evolving microbial community. In a way, its like observing the daily changes in your garden – watching the cheese develop its rind.

Cheese washing itself is a Zen-like experience. The flip, brush, and gentle muslin wash become a rhythmic nurturing from a human to a special food to feed fellow humans. The wash gives the affineur (can I call myself that?) an opportunity to closely observe each wheel. Some have a rim of dark cream overlapping circles of rind on the edge of their faces. Most faces burnish with a lovely deep gold.

The sides have a stippled design of texture that confirms the finishing process is well under way. I wish I had a microscope to reveal the plethora of organisms that are doing the hard work of creating our signature alpine-style cheese.

It is a little nerve-wracking, having to wait at least 8 months to cut into a wheel and see if my taste buds confirm this is the Teetoos we strive to create. And this make will be the first one I have cared for ever since its arrival in Portland, having been shipped from its maker, Chris Roelli, of Shullsburg, Wisconsin. Those creamy white fresh wheels that entered the cave in November have a sturdy rind now. We just need to let the flavor bloom for another 5 months – then cut a wedge, savor it, and see if I would have met Patrick’s approval. If love can make it happen, this cheese will be fantastic!

A New Chapter

It has taken me over 2 months and a November full of birthdays to finally write this post. I am deeply saddened to report that our beloved and energetic cheesemaker passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in September. We have been shocked and heartbroken and thank all of our friends, family, and cheese community for their support. Patrick left behind an aging room nearly full of beautiful alpine style cheeses in various stages of finishing.

Patrick Lee washing Teetoos at the affinage.

To honor his passion and continue his joy of sharing, his PCQI (partner and preventive controls quality individual – AKA me) has taken the reins and is putting lots of love into washing and flipping wheels. Thankfully, Patrick was meticulous in his records and management of the affinage. We cross trained each other in the unforeseen event one of us was unable to work. We talked daily about the affinage, the cheese progress, customers, and dreams. We tasted, smelled, critiqued, learned, and enjoyed.

Cheesemaker at the party!

Patrick was in his element when he was sharing his cheese. Whether at a party, a demo, or a friend’s house, he relished setting up his cheese tasting. If he had a service person do work for him at the affinage, that person left with a wedge of cheese. I am so fortunate to have shared this joy with him. And for now, I continue what Patrick started by tending the cheese he made along with a new make of Teetoos produced this fall by Patrick’s great mentor and master cheese maker, Chris Roelli. We are tending this new make with Chris’s guidance and Patrick’s notes and procedures. Plus I’m doing a lot of reading about the chemistry and art of affinage! I hope that when this make of Teetoos is ready to share next summer, we can have a big post-COVID party to celebrate his life and continue his passion for artisan cheese. In the meantime, his creations are available at our fantastic retailers.

Patrick’s tradition continues.

Pascal Affinage Goes State-Wide!

Thank you Market of Choice for allowing us to join your family of stores and offer Teetoos to your customers! We now have our classic alpine-style cheese available in Eugene, Corvallis, Ashland, and Bend! And our metro-area customers out on the west side can find Teetoos at the Cedar Mill Market of Choice. We are thrilled that the cheese buyers at Market of Choice support small producers such as ourselves here in Oregon. When you pick up your wedge of Teetoos, drop us a note and let us know what you think. Thanks for your support!

New Names, New Cheese

Teetoos Wheel

Call Me Teetoos

After input from several cheese aficionados and customers, we have changed the spelling (but not the pronunciation) of our signature alpine style cheese. T2SS has been re-named Teetoos! We hope our flavorful, umami-rich cheese will be easier for cheese lovers to pronounce and easy to remember when you look for it at your artisan cheese counter.

Adding the vegetable “ash” layer to our new Moufette cheese

New Cheese in the Works

Our cheesemaker dreamed of making a new cheese that reminded him of the “campagne” or countryside in France. In February, he created a new recipe for a Morbier-style cheese and made 4 wheels back at Roelli Cheese Haus in Wisconsin. We wanted to make a cheese that was similar to traditional Morbier but with our own flavor profile – a bit stronger tasting with the characteristic fine layer of vegetable “ash” between two layers of cheese. Friends and knowledgeable cheese folks gave it a thumbs up! It is definitely stronger smelling but smooth tasting cheese. The aroma and black stripe through the center conjured the name, Moufette. We’ve heard “intoxicating smell,” “aroma of buttermilk biscuits” and flavors of “alfalfa honey,” “butter butter,” with a tang. Needless to say, our taste testers said, “We want more!” So in July, Pascal Affinage made our first cheese “make” here in Oregon at Oregon State University’s creamery. This cheese reminds us of picnicking under a huge shade tree, looking out on an expanse of green grass surrounded by nature. We imagine sampling the cheese with a crusty baguette and fruit. We are excited and hopeful that our first Oregon-made and Oregon-aged Moufette will be a favorite of yours as well. If all proceeds well, it should be ready by October 2020.

Moufette

Cheese and Cider Lovers Unite!

Cider weekOur cheese loves to cozy up to Oregon ciders! And we love the enthusiasm of Oregon’s cider fans as they celebrate Oregon Cider Week for 11 full days from June 18th through the 28th! Cider promoters have gone virtual with a creative line-up of events that include take out bundles and Zoomie meetings to discuss the tasting notes and pairings for Oregon’s plethora of wonderful ciders. You will find us rounding out Oregon Cider Week with Cheese Bar’s Cheese and Cider For All event on Saturday, June 27th from 3 to 4 p.m. Nikki Panos of Cheese Bar will host a cheese and cider pairing class that includes our T2SS alpine-style cheese along with farmhouse cider from our great friends at Runcible Cider in Mosier. Pre-order your cheese and cider for Cheese and Cider for All online or by calling Cheese Bar at 503-222-6014 and join us for the virtual party! See you there!

Enjoy Cheese, Support Artisan Food Producers

Cheese wheel 5.2020

Gimme Shelter!

The stay home stay safe restrictions have taken a toll on food-related businesses across the country. Events and even dinners with friends have been put on indefinite hold. Specialty foods and small producers have been particularly affected.

At the affinage, our aging room is full of the signature aroma of happy cheese. Our latest makes of T2SS alpine style cheese are beautifully aged and full of flavor. You can enjoy it anytime as a snack, alongside quince paste or fruit, or melted in a hot panini. We hope you will consider buying our cheese at our local retailers – Providore Fine Foods, and World Foods Portland – Everett and Barbur Locations.

Many Portlanders, including ourselves, have drastically limited their visits to grocery stores since the pandemic emerged. Yet we still still crave high quality foods. In order to bring our cheese to more folks and adhere to Oregon’s safe distancing and infection control best practices, we are developing a plan to sell pre-cut wedges of T2SS that can be pre-paid online. Our tentative plan is to take orders and set up central locations in the Portand area for pick-up on Saturdays. We will have your cheese packaged and can put it directly into your trunk.  If you are interested in learning more, please drop us a note.

Your health and safety are very important to us. We want to assure you we follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines and State of Oregon requirements for controlling the spread of coronavirus.

Affinage door

 

What’s Happening at the Affinage?

Mosier Cheese Tasting 1 2 A B

Almost Spring 2020!

A huge Thank You! to all of our friends, cheese tasters, retail partners, and customers! As we plan to roll out another make of our T2SS (Titus en Francais) alpine-style cheese, we are very pleased to see the lovely layers of sumptuous flavor and characteristic umami finish shining as bright as we expect. It is really good! Making artisan cheese is truly a labor of love and our labors are coming to fruition. We have tastings coming up over the next couple of months and hope to share our cheese with you soon!

Cheese Demo at Providore Fine Foods Friday 2/28 from 5 – 7 p.m.

Come taste our T2SS alpine-style cheese near the Pastaworks cheese counter and take home fabulous cheeses (including ours, of course!) for snacking, partying, and pairing. Start your weekend by treating your palate! Be there Friday at 2340 NE Sandy, PDX 97232.

Pascal Affinage Debuts at the Oregon Cheese Festival in Central Point!

The biggest celebration of cheese in Oregon is held every March at Rogue Creamery in Central Point. This year the cheese-o-rama will be held on March 14th and 15th. Over 25 cheesemakers join a plethora of specialty food producers, beverage purveyors (pairings, anyone?), crafts, and non-profits at an expansive at mostly covered venue in beautiful southern Oregon. This is a cheese party you should not miss! We will be offering our latest release of T2SS alpine style cheese and we think you will love it! Click here for tickets!

Oregon Cheese Festival

 

 

What’s Happening at the Affinage ?

Hello 2020!

As we ring in the New Year we are grateful for all of our friends, colleagues, and family who have supported our journey to make fine artisan cheese. 2019 was quite year for growth and exploration at Pascal Affinage! We could not have done it without your support, encouragement, and best of all – friendship. Here are a few highlights we experienced at the affinage and with our T2SS (Titus if you speak French) alpine-style cheese.

entering the cheese cave

Winter 2019 – Our cheesemaker traveled to France for the week-long Academie-Mons affinage course. He learned more geeky cheese science and interesting techniques for bringing out characteristic flavors in aged cheeses. Shortly thereafter, he  ventured back to Shullsburg, Wisconsin for a second make of T2SS at Chris Roelli’s renowned creamery.

Working with Master Cheesemaker Chris Roelli

Meanwhile, the plans for our aging facility were picking up steam.

Spring 2019 – We worked with Sanitary Designs Industries (SDI) to construct an aging box for our cheese. This climate controlled box would allow us to age our cheese right here in Portland. We were excited – but there were many hoops to jump through. Being energetic and fit, we finally jumped the last hoop and in mid-May, we successfully underwent Oregon Dept. of Agriculture inspection and were able to start up the affinage! The following week we received our first shipment of T2SS (43 wheels) from Shullsburg. Our cheesemaker made cheese earlier in the month and the May wheels would age entirely at our new facility.

Cows

Summer 2019 – Lots of cheese tastings, selling cheese well at specialty markets in Portland. We began investigating making our cheese at Nestucca Bay Creamery (amazing milk) thanks to the hospitality of Amy and Serene. Of course, lots of reviewing and refining our affinage procedures back at the aging facility. Traveled to Wales and England and tasted lots of cheese including the Welsh Caerphilly and lovely English cheddar.

Patrick at Neal's Yard London

In August we attended our very first American Cheese Society Conference in Richmond, VA. A plethora of cheeses to tantalize the palette! Plus we networked, learned much more about cheese, and loved kicking around Richmond.

ACS 2019

Fall 2019 – We had two new customers for our cheese! Higgins Restaurant in downtown Portland added T2SS (they call it Pascal’s cheese) to their cheese plate and to some of their recipes. And Steve Jones and Sarah at Cheese Bar added T2SS to their cheese case. Sales continued to be strong at World Foods Portland locations. We were sad to lose our first retail outlet when City Market NW closed in August. Fortunately, the Pastaworks cheese counter at Providore Fine Foods continues to carry T2SS along with its other very fine cheeses. We had many demos this fall and had the most fun pairing our cheese with our great friends at Runcible Cider in Mosier. They came to Portland to hold two tastings with us (at Cheese Bar and The Place and we had a very successful pairing at their cider stand in Mosier just before Thanksgiving.

Rob and Kelly w Dave at The Place

What’s On for 2020? – We are experimenting with a new wash on a few wheels – may have a new flavor to try! We hope to have T2SS on more restaurant menus in Portland and plan to continue great relationships with our retail partners. This summer the American Cheese Society Conference comes to Portland and we are very excited to immerse ourselves in cheese nirvana for several days.

Cheesemaker w T2SS

We appreciate your interest and support! Feel free to contact us with suggestions at pascalaffinage@comcast.net

 

 

 

Fall 2019

More T2SS Tastings and Pairings for Fall!

Pascal Affinage has been invited to join our friends Rob and Kelly from Runcible Cider for two tastings coming up soon. We will celebrate the upcoming holidays out in Mosier at Runcible Cider’s cider stand at 1084 Quartz Drive, Mosier, OR on Saturday November 23rd from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Runcible has a creative selection of dry ciders – some with unique ingredients like bergamot, quince, and hops. Come on out to the eastern Gorge for a visit! We have spectacular views up on the prairie above Mosier. You can stop by Hood River for great pizza and holiday shopping (one of our favorite places for fun gifts!). Travel up to Parkdale for fantastic apples, hike the Mosier Plateau or Tom McCall Preserve and visit local wineries during your visit.

mosier 2019
Mosier in Fall

In Portland, we will be pairing T2SS with Runcible Cider at The Place at 1212 SE Powell on December 6th from 4 – 7 p.m. The Place is a cider and bottle shop with an amazing selection of dry ciders – over 150 of them! They also have a selection of interesting beers and natural wines. We will be there pairing and sharing. Come join us!

Try a Professional Pairing of T2SS at Cheese Bar or Higgins Restaurant!

Steve Jones of Cheese Bar near Mt. Tabor and Greg Higgins of his namesake restaurant in downtown Portland both have T2SS on the menu!

More T2SS is coming of age!

We are now selling and tasting our February 2019 T2SS and it has received rave reviews! Our May 2019 makes are coming along nicely and are sure to please. You can find T2SS at Providore Fine Foods in NE Portland and both World Foods locations – the Everett Store in The Pearl and the Barbur store in SW Portland. Check back on our Happenings Page for updates on where you can find our beautiful artisan cheese. And follow us on Instagram!

Washing T2SS Cheese

More Oregon News

Now that we are aging our cheese here in Oregon, we have been exploring possibilities for making it here. Thanks to support from our cheese and dairy friends, the dream is moving closer to reality. We are tremendously grateful to Chris Roelli of Roelli Cheese Haus for his support and mentorship as he welcomed us into his creamery in Shullsburg, Wisconsin to make T2SS back in early 2018.  We are honored to have had the opportunity to work with such a distinguished artisan cheese maker.

T2ss wedges