A stalker is defined as: a person who follows or observes (a person) persistently, especially out of obsession or derangement. Phew! I dont qualify, as I am clearly not deranged. Close though, considering I shadowed David Gremmels of Rogue Creamery and the American Cheese Society around Tampa on his latest visit. In my world of cheese, meeting him is like meeting a rock star. Top that with David being one of the most humble and patient people Ive ever talked to; add cheese, wine and beer to the mix and you can pretty much describe my day as bliss.
I first met David on the terrace at Mazzaros Italian Market on a beautiful afternoon. He had just begun a tour of the South to celebrate Rogue Creamerys 75th anniversary. David and co-owner Cary Bryant bought the creamery in 2002 and they have raked in the awards since. Holding fast to responsibility, Rogue Creamery is certified organic and sustainable with a seal of quality assurance.
In addition to winning the Worlds Best Blue Cheese Award in 2003, their Rogue River Blue took Best of Show at the 2009 American Cheese Society competition and second in 2010. Only 2,000 wheels of Rogue River Blue are produced annually. After some aging, Rogue River Blue is hand wrapped in Syrah leaves harvested from Carpenter Hill Vineyards. Rogue soaks the leaves in Clear Creeks Pear Brandy for eight months before wrapping each wheel of blue and tying the leaves in place with raffia. This makes the mold go into an anaerobic state stopping further growth. The textural charm from the rich, creamy paste dotted with calcium and tyrosine crystals (an amino acid found in protein) assures that you are eating a well-made aged cheese, while the nuances of pine, berries, hazelnuts and pears confirm complexity. Beer pairings for Rogue River Blue run the gamut, but David recommends a special blend of equal parts Rogue Brewerys Morimota Soba Ale and their Double Chocolate Stout, which he calls a Mole. The concoction complements the cheese by accentuating its nuttiness while the cheese brings out the coffee notes in the beer.