Where’s My Cheese? Find Your Cheese at the Oregon Cheese Cave
Much like cheese itself, the Oregon Cheese Cave, located in the renovated section of Phoenix and which opened five months ago, has been ages in the making. Fittingly, it is staffed by Mélodie Picard, who was born and raised in France, started out in specialty foods over eight years ago, and got excellent training at Market of Choice.
“It’s my calling,” she says. “I know how to eat cheese.” She, and her husband, Trey, who is from the Midwest are well paired to succeed in the Rogue Valley specialty food business. Intrigued by the wine industry and Shakespeare Festival, they moved to the area six years ago after finding Ashland on Facebook.
The small cave is set-up like a triangular wedge of fromaggio with large windows in the front and a bar-style eating area and then narrowing to the back. Picard greets customers with a “bon jour” and spelunking with this self-proclaimed “pairing expert,” is absolute fun. She introduces her three cheese refrigerators: cow’s milk; non-cow’s milk (sheep and goat) and Oregon cheeses. The variety inside changes based on season, availability and requests. The cave even has two types of vegan options made from cashew milk (though nuts cannot really be milked.) “It is handcrafted in Beaverton Oregon,” Picard explains. “They were in Eugene and Portland and the owners split and one took the restaurant and one took the cheese to Beaverton.” Picard goes on to say, “The enzyme and the culture do the work of the cheese. For vegans, cheese is the last thing that they will give up.”
Makes total sense. She recommends that I take home one of the Vtopian artisan cheeses for my husband who must not eat dairy at all due to a health condition. But for those individuals without limitations, there are about 20 cheese varieties, along with wine, cider and gluten-free beer. The alcohol selection is meant to complement specific cheeses, and there are also “cheese friends.” These friendly accoutrements are what you would expect on a cheese platter such as pickled items, Oregon honey or even a caramel Dulce de leche treat.
But what stands out is the savory waffle bar where you can enjoy a gluten-free, organic and vegan waffle topped with cheese and then customized with options like capers, tuna, or onion relish. Picard described the sensation recently to a teenager as “like having toast with cream cheese but French.” When asked about Picard’s favorite cheese she says, “I am very excited to finally have Mimolette in. She describes it as, “Savory gouda of sorts that is made into an orange ball. Serious cheese cutting skills needed.”
To complete my cave visit, I brought home a Macadamia Cashew Camembert (cultured cashew cheese) Vtopian Vegan cheese for my husband. It did not fool us into thinking it was cheese; more like a spread. The texture always gives it away. But it was delicious when paired with an apple, put on crackers and is much better than going completely cheese less.
Oregon Cheese Cave
12 – 5 pm, Monday – Saturday
Second Thursdays, Tasting Class
Oregon Cheese Festival
11 am – 5 pm, Saturday, March 16 and 11 am – 4 pm, Sunday, March 17
Rogue Creamery – The CraterWorks Building, 311 & 419 N Front St., (HWY 99) Central Point
$15 in advance, $20 at the door. Adult beverage tasting, $10 add-on ticket. Children 12 and under, free.