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Cream of the Crop 

Seven locally produced cheeses worth every creamy calorie

click to enlarge YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak

Marinated Feta

Kelly Creek Farm makes its feta exclusively with cow milk, which results in more of a buttery cheese, rather than the tangy variety you may be used to. Cheesemaker Katrina Austin calls it a "feta for people who say they don't like feta." After Austin submerges it in a sea salt brine for 70 days, she then marinates it in olive oil, garlic, oregano and basil. The end result is delicious on pasta or in a salad, and flavorful enough to eat unaccompanied. Find it at the Kootenai County and Coeur d'Alene farmers markets and online at kellycrkfarm.com.

Luck of the Irish

Pure Eire Dairy in Othello, Washington, is proudly the only certified 100-percent grass-fed dairy in the nation, producing milk, yogurt and a variety of artisan cheeses. Their Luck of the Irish cheese manages to be slightly sweet and sharp, at the same time, with the dry texture of a traditional Irish cheddar. Find it at Main Market and online at pureeiredairy.com.

Lavender Honey Chèvre

Sunny Pine Farm marries tart goat cheese with lavender and a touch of honey to make an exceptionally smooth and creamy spread. Everything that goes into this cheese is produced right on the farm in the Methow Valley, and is certified organic. Find it at Pilgrim's Market, Main Market and online at sunnypinefarm.com.

Feta

Heron Pond Farms makes a traditional feta, a product of the 15 or so Nubian goats that call the small family farm below Tower Mountain, south of Spokane, home. Firm and dense, it crumbles well for use in salads or pizza. The folks at Heron Pond recommend it with some fresh thyme, rosemary and a drizzle of honey. Buy it at Rocket Market, Main Market, Huckleberry's and online at heronpondfarms.com.

Garlic Cheese Curds

Each batch of Kelly Creek Farm's curds takes 12 hours to make, including three hours of cutting the curds by hand every 15 minutes. While cheese curds are usually mild, not to mention squeaky, Kelly Creek's pack a flavorful garlic punch. You'll find this Pinehurst, Idaho, creamery's cheeses at the Kootenai County and Coeur d'Alene farmers markets and online at kellycrkfarm.com.

Lavender Spice Chèvre

Chattaroy Cheese Co. is always experimenting with new flavor combinations for its creamy chèvre, but the Lavender Spice is consistently its bestseller. This delicious flavor combination happened as a result of a chance meeting at the Spokane Farmers' Market when Chattaroy's booth was setup next to Garden Gate Lavender Farm's. Cheesemaker Becky Jasper tasted Garden Gate's proprietary Lavender Spice Blend with her fresh chèvre, and a star was born. Find it at Rosauers, Rocket Market, Main Market, area farmer's markets and online at chattaroycheese.com.

Garlic and Sea Salt Chèvre

This South Hill micro-dairy produces fresh and aged cheeses, yet Heron Pond's Garlic and Sea Salt Chèvre remains a bestseller. The garlic is mellow, since it's roasted before being paired with the goat cheese and just the right amount of sea salt. We sampled it with rosemary crackers, but Heron Pond's dark, little secret is they scoop it up with Ruffles. Find it at Rocket Market, Huckleberry's, Main Market, various farmers markets and online at heronpondfarms.com.

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