Mt. Townsend Creamery is a small creamery situated close to the water on the North Pacific Peninsula in Port Townsend. They source their milk from local dairies, meaning they don’t have a herd of Bessie’s but rely on local producers to supply them with milk for their delicacies. Owners Matt Day and Ryan Trail started the business with a belief that milk produced in their locale is a national treasure, and that the cheeses they make should reflect not only the terrain of the Pacific Northwest but highlight the rich agricultural tradition of their somewhat obscure dairy region.
Having such a small staff, the labor of love really shines at the creamery. Using traditional methods with a spice of American innovation they have produced a number of cheeses, including two of my favorite cheese buddies. Seastack, a personal go-to when throwing a cheese board together, and Trailhead the extremely versatile cheese that can be used for snacking or as a creamy addition to a culinary masterpiece in the kitchen.
But this review is about a very special cheese, a very hard-to-get limited edition cheese, behold: TruffleStack!
Seastack Truffle is a surface-ripened beauty with a fighting weight of about 6oz and is made from 100% pasteurized cow’s milk. The creamery collaborated with RITROVO by using a truffle and salt mixture produced by Cassina Rossa to get those savory/umami flavors into the mix. Out of the package it looks similar to its older brother Seastack, minus the dark vegetable ash peeking through the bloomy white mold. The rind is fairly thin and durable, so cutting into the wheel it squished a bit before slicing but once punctured it oozed forth in gooey goodness exposing the denser cheese cake like pearl in the middle.
What surprised me was the absence of the numerous black peppered spots that are seemingly synonymous with truffled cheeses, and instead I was greeted with a bright white to golden hue that became slightly darker as you get closer to the rind. You will also detect notes of mushroom, fresh cream and strong truffle on the nose. The paste is absolutely delicious, a great balance between the strong savory head of the truffle and the sweetness of the cow’s milk. The sweet cream goes straight to work giving a great mouth-feel while the dense center gives your taste buds some purchase while you close your eyes and let your nose go to work.
With the use of truffle salt I felt that the rind was toned down a bit and slightly chewy–it became more of a texture versus a flavor. Having something for my teeth to work on while the paste danced around my mouth gave me a longer experience and ultimately a more enjoyable one. Hand ladling the curds yields a more evenly distributed interior with a most delicate fluffy, cheesecake like texture. Very noticeable in this cheese.
I have a very special place in my heart for what we call “flavor added” cheeses, however, I find that most of these cheeses start off with a less than stellar product from either poor milk quality, shoddy aging or cost-over-quality beliefs, and by adding a flavored substance to their product they try to mask the obvious shortcomings of their own practices. This was absolutely, totally, 110% not the case with the TruffleStack. Marrying these great tastes and finding a balance where each individual flavor merits its own time on the palate is a sign of careful planning and masterful execution.
The only problem is that being a limited edition cheese we won’t see it very often in Dallas. So, like strawberry season in France, when we do, eating it is all the more of a celebration.
Lance Lynn is one of the valued cheesemongers at Scardello in Dallas that has a passion for great cheeses and beer.