To those of us who've forced our entire family to take a field trip to Camembert -- the one in France -- and badgered flight attendants to let us store a particularly funky taleggio in the airplane fridge during a cross-country trip, the appearance of a new local farmstead cheese is something to celebrate.
The process took longer than Timmermeister thought. First, the equipment had to be shipped from the Netherlands, France, and Slovenia. Then there was the long learning curve. "I was a little cocky," he admits, "so I expected to go from six cheeses at a time to 50 in two weeks." His first cheese, named Dinah after one of his cows, is a Camembert-style soft, bloomy-rind cow's milk cheese. It's the kind meant to puddle over the plate and scent the room with a mushroom-cow-. "It probably the dumbest thing I could start with," he laughs, "fussy and particular. And when it's off it's really off. I would throw out 100-150 cheeses a week when I started. The pigs ate cheese all day long."
Although the new cheesemaker says he still makes occasional mistakes, he started selling the Dinah at the end of August. Given the quality of the cheese and Timmermeister's long history in the Seattle food world, he's already distributing to restaurants such as Lark, Cantinetta, and the Corson Building and selling Dinah at the Vashon Thriftway, Picnic, and DeLaurenti; he says certain Whole Foods stores will begin selling the cheese next week. Meanwhile, a second, longer-aged hard cheese is in the works.
Distributing a creamy-centered fresh cheese (made with pasteurized milk as per USDA regulations -- "Raw-milk cheese is so not worth losing my farm over," he says) is probably as finicky as making it. Given that he's only making one cheese so far, Timmermeister prefers to sell to markets and restaurants instead of renting a farmers market stall. It also means he has to age the cheeses until he deems them ripe enough to show off his style yet stay at their peak until they're sold. "I want people to have a good, gooey cheese. So I take the 50 most beautiful cheeses and they're at DeLaurenti three hours later." FYI: Delivery day is Wednesday.