Rivers Edge Chevre Wins “Best American Cheese” for the second time in 2013 in international competition
Rivers Edge Chevre’s Up in Smoke was chosen as the “Best American Cheese” at the 25th annual Guild of Fine Foods World Cheese Awards on Wednesday, November 27th 2013. The competition was held at the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham, England. This win follows on the heels of Rivers Edge Chevre’s Humbug Mountain winning Best USA Cheese in July at the 116th annual International Cheese Awards in Nantwich, England.
Up in Smoke is a hand formed 4 oz. round of fresh chevre that is smoked over maple and alder and then wrapped in smoked Big Leaf Maple leaves that have been misted with bourbon. Patricia Morford received word of her cheeses fate via an email from fellow Oregon Cheese Guild member and one of the over 250 judges of the World Cheese Awards, David Gremmels, (co-owner of Rogue Creamery).
“Congratulations Pat on winning a Supreme Super Gold tonight at the World Cheese Awards and being Crowned Best American Cheese! I chose, presented and championed your cheese tonight on the supreme judges panel. It showed and tasted brilliantly against 60 competing cheeses and the panel of 15 judges totally agreed by giving it a Supreme Super Gold and crowning it Best American Cheese.”
Before making it to the final round of judging it had received a Super Gold in the class it had originally been entered in (Class 5007- Goat’s milk cheese smoked). The final panel of 15 judges represented 13 different countries. Up in Smoke competed against smoked goat cheeses from all around the world in its original class and then against all the cow, sheep and goat cheeses entered from the United States before being awarded “Best American Cheese”.
Up in Smoke was not the only Rivers Edge Chevre cheese to win an award, Siltcoos, a small ash coated, soft ripened wheel of chevre that is decorated with a fern was awarded a Gold in its class (Class 5514- Any cheese that has been awarded Supreme Champion (or its equivalent) in a national or international cheese awards in any country). Siltcoos was entered in this class because it had won Best in Show at the 2012 American Dairy Goat Association’s cheese competition.
Rivers Edge Chevre is a farmstead goat cheese producer located in Logsden, Oregon. Their cheese is sold across the United States and can be purchased 7 days a week on the farm at their self-serve cheese refrigerator located on the front porch of the dairy at 6315 Logsden Rd., Logsden, Oregon 97357.
up in smoke cheese
Sherman, set the wayback machine for 1974, destination LaCrosse, Wisconsin. My first job out of college, I was selling radio advertising for a local AM radio station, WIZM. One of my clients was a small group of convenience stores called “Kwik Trip”, which I believe was part of Gateway Foods Distributors at the time, but subsequently became privately owned by two of the executives.
One of them was named John Hanson, and he and a colleague, Paul Stover I think his name was, sat in a small room in the back of one of the early stores, on Highway 61 heading south out of LaCrosse. I think Paul told me at the time that their goal was to get each customer to spend $1.15 or some such on each visit. I’m sure that number has changed.
Working with John and Paul, we did a lot of off-the-wall radio ads which I hope contributed to their growth; at least Hanson and Stover liked them, as they kept ordering new ones. It was a time in the history of radio advertising where “creativity sold”, so we did whacky things like interviews with sandwiches. It was great fun to help create the spots, and work with the Kwik Trip and WIZM guys to bring them to life.
There weren’t that many stores back then, a few in LaCrosse and a few in Eau Claire, WI. Today there are over 400, with 10,000 employees, and the company is still privately held, and very generous with their employees, in regards to doling out profits and even some equity.
What’s remarkable about Kwik Trip is its vertical integration, which has done so well for the company that even the big guys have started to copy it. What vertical integration means is that you see a lot of Kwik Trip branded products in the store, across all segments, snacks, hot and cold food, dairy, frozen. Marketing this way enables a company to control quality, costs, and offer product at a lower margin than competitors.
Anyway, I’ve written about Kwik Trip a bit before, as I am fond of their truck stop in Tomah, Wi. They came to my attention today because they have announced they are building a half dozen new stores in my home town of Duluth-Superior.
They’ll be going up against the usual competitors, and some guys I went to prep school with who own a mini chain called Little Stores, but I am sure they will capture the hearts of Northlanders like they do everywhere they open.
Kwik Trip Convenience Stores
On Belknap (“bell-nap”), one of the main drags in Superior, WI, two blocks west of the other main drag, Tower Avenue, you’ll run into one of the area’s largest liquor stores, the Keyport, which has an attached bar and grill of the same name. If you’re driving around looking for it, it’s in the outlot of Super One Grocery.
They frequently have live entertainment, daily specials, karaoke, and a gaggle of big screen TVs for sporting events.
The Minnesota Burger Bureau Chief was following one of his local favorite music acts, Todd Ekhart, and stopped in the other night, sampling the “Siracha Burger” from the full menu, which includes ciabatta sandwiches, wraps, salads, Mexican favorites, and pizza. The hand-formed char crust burger patty was painted with a siracha / bbq sauce mixture, topped with bacon, cheese, and onion rings. He reported that it was a fine effort, other than he and the chef had different opinions on what levels of doneness meant. (Food photo credit Kawikamedia.com; exterior shot from Google Maps).
Keyport Lounge Review
As a consumer, I totally get Groupon, Living Social, Amazon Local, and the host of other services like this. I get a good deal (if I ever actually redeem the coupon) (I have a bundle of expired ones), I am (hopefully) introduced to someplace new, and will (hopefully) return again and spend real money.
Does it work? Yes and no. There is plenty of research that shows running a promotion like this creates a lot of traffic, but repeat business is not so hot.
At least not strong enough to generate a positive ROI on the promotion, as from the initial sales, the restaurant is receiving half of the highly discounted offer Groupon has distributed; Groupon keeps the rest (plus credit card fees, returns, etc).
Example: your joint is offering $40 worth of food and drinks for 60% off. So this is sold on Groupon for $16, and you’re going to gross $8 on the deal. (I understand the fee split can be negotiated, tho, as is the time it takes to get paid).
$8 for $40 worth of your inventory. Yikes. And don’t forget the credit card fees and returns and such. So let’s say you’re getting $6 on $40.
Now any of these services have massive reach, and you’re going to receive (hopefully) a bundle of cash at the onset of the promotion, and that will help you out for the current month, and you cross your fingers everyone won’t come and redeem the coupons in the same week, or month even.
Here’s what I’d like from you dudes in the restaurant business. Run these specials IN-HOUSE, or to your own email list, or by putting them on your website, or spending miniscule amounts of money to advertise them in places like the Patch.
You get to keep ALL the money, you don’t have to wait for it, you get to WRITE your own copy, and you get to dictate redemption times.
I’d rather give you the money.
Like most people, I have my share of Thanksgiving memories, encompassing the whole range of emotions – joyful, painful, embarrassing, curious, mildly amusing.
The years that I have spent the holiday “alone” have usually fallen into the “interesting” category; one year I went to Waffle House in the middle of the night for my ‘feast, and ended up reflecting on the holiday and America in general. It was a couple months after Hurricane Katrina, and the folks gathered at the WH were grateful to have a hot meal of any kind.
My first Thanksgiving living in China was both interesting and fun; a local restaurant in Guangzhou (Canton) served up their take on the American spread to a group of ex-pats. It was great fun.
My favorite Thanksgiving ever was one my daughter prepared, she was about ten, and she had planned an entire day of non-stop feasting, with the only assistance from the big people coming in the form of a couple of runs to the grocery store. She prepared perhaps thirty different items, from breakfast, thru lunch, snacks, and the traditional feast. She had written down the entire food list on a scrap of paper that ended up stained with food and beverages at the end of day, that piece of paper is one of my most treasured possessions.
A year after Katrina, money was tight, and my squeeze du jour and I went to a fancy grocery store, and bought tasty morsels in small increments – a buck worth of this, $3 of that, and had a fabulous ‘tapas’ style dinner with all sorts of delicacies.
Two years ago, a friend hosted a huge potluck, and it seems everyone was very accomplished in the kitchen, and it was a wonderful night, with great people, close friends, and tasty foods. Evolving it into the weirdness category, a bunch of us left dinner and went to a local dive tavern, and grazed thru the bar’s Thanksgiving dinner. That was a good one.
There was one in Hong Kong, I spent the day cooking, my girlfriend was at work, and came home about 11 PM. I had assumed we would celebrate the day, and wasn’t aware it was never a significant thing for her. Oh well.
Last year, 2012, totally forgettable, a bunch of people, none of whom wanted to be around the others, some ersatz relatives, people dropping by for dinner even though they had already had two or three elsewhere. It was the last Thanksgiving I would have in the city and house that I had lived in for the longest single stint I had spent in one place in my adult life. Exile came weeks later.
This year, a return to normalcy, beyond normalcy, in a posh tropical seaside resort, surrounded by people I love and who love me, unconditionally, always have, and always will. The food will be a splendiferous feast of lobster, shrimp, tropical fruits, a pig roast on the beach, accompanied by an unending supply of umbrella drinks.
I am blessed. This is heaven. A destination I deserve after seven years in hell.
Jon Stewart, the witty host of TV’s “The Daily Show” took off on Chicago pizza last week, as a postscript to a story about the new World Trade Center being named the tallest building in America. Seems Mr. Stewart’s opinion of the 2nd city is less than favorable, and his pizza rant took up quite a long segment. If you missed it, I’ve included it here.
Mind you, I don’t DISlike deep dish (Chicago style), it’s just I prefer pizza for the toppings and cheese, and less for a heavy crust.
Gino’s East is one of the more renown deep dish makers in the city, with about a dozen locations, and like many successful pizza restaurants, they have a frozen line that closely parallels the restaurant pizza.
They are widely available in grocery stores, weigh in at two full pounds, and cost considerably less than at the restaurant, of course.
The Gino’s East version of the Chicago pie starts with a thick butter flavored crust in a two inch pie pan, followed by a layer of cheese, a layer of sausage, more cheese, and thick and chunky tomato sauce on the top. (That order was part of the source of Stewart’s consternation – “sauce on the top!”).
While it takes nearly forty minutes to bake at home, the result is worth it, a flavorful pie, with quality ingredients. If I was in charge, I would make a few small changes, I’d go with a single patty of sausage spanning the pie (as some places do), and more cheese. Gino’s East frozen uses sausage crumbles. I can imagine that these are pre-cooked, resulting in a less greasy pie, which is understandable and a good thing.
The pies are made by a contract manufacturer in the tiny town of Waupaca, Wisconsin; Chef Fresh is the name of the outfit, and I found an old news story about them.
Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review
Amble up the North Shore of Lake Superior, you’ll be treated to some gorgeous scenery as well as a choice of hot spots for haute. The Clearwater Grille strives to serve ultra tasty food in a casual atmosphere; it’s located in the building locals know as the former “Lakeview Castle.” Boasting a large area for private events, and catering services, private dining rooms can accommodate between 12-500.
The Clearwater is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, and for brunch on the weekend, featuring a Bloody Mary bar on Sundays.
Kawika and the Minnesota Posse stopped by and had one of the items that the house boats about, Yankee Pot Roast, a beef roast stewed with carrots, onion, and celery in a rich beef gravy, with a side of smash and choice of soup or salad. To a man, all enjoyed the dish.
A neighboring table went with one of the daily specials, a “Cowboy Burger”, which looked tasty as well. While not described on the menu, it looked to be the ‘standard cowboy’ configuration, including bacon, cheese, bbq sauce, and crispy onion strings.
Clearwater Grille Review
From humble beginnings in Champaign, IL, in 1953, Dog n Suds grew to be one of the formidable fast food chains in the early 60s, peaking at over 600 locations in more than 30 states. The restaurant featured drive-up service, coney island style hot dogs, and ‘charco-broiled’ burgers.
A series of events, a couple of sales, and interest in new franchises waned, and shop after shop closed.
Today, the company is rebuilding, with about two dozen outlets, primarily in the Upper Midwest. They’ve licensed their classic root beer formula, which was the original bedrock of their success, to Clover Bottling in Chicago, and Dog n Suds root beer is available in grocery stores in the Midwest.
I haven’t been to one for years….but I’m feeling it’s time for a road trip!
I guess Walgreens decided they needed to compete with the Dollar Store’s $1 cheeseburger. Or the McDouble? Walgreen’s is the world’s largest drug store chain, with over 8,000 locations in all 50 states, PR and Guam. It started in Chicago in 1901. I’m sure the founders wouldn’t recognize today’s version, which, to me, in most states, are really liquor stores with a prescription counter.
In the 1980s, they started a chain of diner/pancake houses, along the lines of Ihop and Dennys. At the peak, there were over one hundred of them, but somebody got a bug up their butt and sold the chain to Marriott Corporation in 1990.
I’m thinking the older stores had lunch counters, tho, maybe 40 years ago or so. Many drug stores were combo soda fountains, instead of liquor stores. Hmmm, maybe they should put in bars?
In 2010, Walgreen’s started an initiative to stock a wider selection of healthier fresh foods and produce, particularly since some quantity of their stores were located in “food deserts” (areas without a major grocery in a convenient radius).
I haven’t seen one of those stores, they are mostly in inner cities, I understand, and the Walgreens I frequent is in an area that is the antithesis of “inner city.”
“Nice” is their store brand for snack foods, candy, cookies, chips, ice cream and the like, and they have started to add frozen heat and eat convenience foods under this line – pizzas, eggrolls, and the $1 cheeseburger. (I call this kind of product “gas station food’…it’s not derogatory).
It’s 4.6 ounces, and has a pile of carbs, and is ready to go after 60 seconds in the microwave. It compares favorably to other similar products I have sampled. The patty has an OK texture, ‘grill flavoring’, and the sesame bun is quite substantial (tho you can see the effects of my thumbs in the foto).
A toss up with other gas station sandwiches, but better than the McDouble. You’ll find plenty of reviews of frozen burgers on this website by entering “frozen burgers” or “gas station” in the search box to the upper left.
I tweeted something about El Gaucho this morning, and they retweeted it, of course. It got me to thinking about why I like El Gaucho. Why go to a regional steakhouse in cities (like Seattle and Portland) that are chock-a-block full of the national chains like Ruth’s Chris and Morton’s, and local old-timey favorites like Ringside in Portland?
The answer, for me, is rather simple: El Gaucho approaches steak with value propositions on every level – quality, preparation, ambiance and service that is unequaled on every level.
They have combined the best of “old-world panache’ with modern service.
I’m particularly fond of El Gaucho for their offering of two very traditional menu offerings that are seldom found anymore, table side preparations of steak tartare and chateaubriand.
Restaurants seem to shy away from steak tartare these days, probably because it’s raw beef and some perceived potential for liability (rubbish). The traditional dish has always been prepared at tableside with egg, capers, onion and seasonings to taste. They mix it, offer you a taste, and you can correct to your own palate. That’s service. Served with toast points.
(I previously did a mini-post about this dish a couple years ago).
Chateaubriand, the elongated beef tenderloin from which filet mignon steaks are cut, is one of the ultra-premium cuts of beef available today, and is the perfect selection for two or more diners. It was first served to Napoleon, and is traditionally accompanied by a rich Bernaise sauce, silky, buttery with a touch of tarragon.
The atmosphere at El Gaucho is dark, but warm and inviting, perfect for a romantic interlude or discreet business event. Classic cocktails are artfully mixed by the competent drink masters tending bar.
My only regret about El Gaucho is that they haven’t expanded beyond the Pacific Northwest. One can always dream. Dinner menu.
(This photo from El Gaucho’s Instagram site).
El Gaucho Steakhouse Review