On Cloud Nine with local cheese and wine

Pairing wine with cheese is sometimes viewed as a mystery but, frankly, what’s not fun about sipping several wines with a selection of cheeses to see what works best together? I can certainly think of worse fates on a Saturday night.

I have a weakness for goat cheese (aka chèvre). It has fewer calories than cow cheese, pairs beautifully with my favorite summer wine (sauvignon blanc) and tastes wonderful alongside many other food flavors that I’m a fan of.

So, I was pretty stoked to find out that Clark County is now home to its own goat cheese farm! Cloud Nine Farm produces goat milk and two cheeses from their happy herd in Ridgefield, Wa. Their milk and cheese can be purchased on their farm (call ahead) or at Chuck’s Produce and, most recently, Zupan’s on Burnside in Portland.

Owned by Mark and Pandora Milligan, Cloud Nine Farm is the culmination of an eight year love affair with cheese making. From their home in NE Portland, they would venture into the ‘Couve for their WSU Extension classes.

“We spent nearly every weekend for two years looking for a farm,” Pandora said. “We started looking north and fell in love with the Ridgefield area. Things were afoot that we had no control over that put us here and we decided it was meant to be.”

The spiciness in syrah—such as this Confluence Winery 2014 Syrah—is a beautiful opportunity to pair it with a peppery arugula salad topped with Cloud Nine Cumulus. Viki Eierdam
The spiciness in syrah—such as this Confluence Winery 2014 Syrah—is a beautiful opportunity to pair it with a peppery arugula salad topped with Cloud Nine Cumulus. Viki Eierdam

It is true that goats raised in clean surroundings make all the difference in the flavor of the milk and creaminess of the cheese. At the Field to Vase dinner this past Sunday, I heard guest after guest remark on the fresh flavor as it was paired with passed appetizers and the slightly peppery arugula salad.

Aside from the Field to Vase Dinner held at Holland America Flowers in Woodland, Cloud Nine was also featured on a field greens salad at the inaugural City of Ridgefield Farm to Fork dinner in August. Current offerings are their Cloud Nine Cumulus (the names says it all; soft, fluffy, mild) and Pandora’s Pink Peppercorn— a berry that’s slightly peppery.

Chèvre is a versatile cheese to pair with food and wine. Again, sauvignon blanc is the most classic pairing like a Pouilly Fumé from the Loire Valley. But the crisp acidity concept can be carried to other whites such as the citrusy notes found in a grüner veltliner. If you’re going that route, why not pick up a bottle of Reustle Prayer Rock—the first winery to produce grüner in the U.S. that just so happens to be located in Southern Oregon.

Shopping for just the right wine for the Thanksgiving table? A fruity rosé is also an excellent turkey and cranberry match as well as a mild goat cheese.

The spiciness in syrah makes it an appropriate suggestion for Cloud Nine’s pink peppercorn. Up the anty by stuffing beef tenderloin with the cheese, pairing this simple and elegant entrée with a glass of syrah and you have a winner a new family favorite.

Goat cheese loves eggs and eggs love bubbles. Try a classic brut style wine with scrambled eggs and dollops of goat cheese for a tastefully simple Sunday brunch.

Other food combinations include fig jam, basil, garden fresh tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, honey and a dollop of goat cheese in your bowl of corn chowder.