Cheese, please: Special herd basis of new Portland Creamery

August 2011 Posted in Other

By Lindsey EvensonLaurie Acton has been breeding goats on 20 acres near Marquam since 1994. Her Saanen, La Mancha, and Alpine goats make up the Tempo Farm herd, which provides the milk for Liz Alvis’ Portland Creamery cheeses.

Driving along Wildcat Road, there is no hint that an internationally acclaimed goat breeder with more than 100 goats and a Grade A dairy lives just down the road.

However, past the grove of tree, down a gravel driveway sits unassuming yet prestigious Tempo Farm.
John and Laurie Acton have been breeding goats on the 20 acres near Marquam since 1994 when they moved from Vancouver, Wash. to be nearer John’s chiropractic clinic in Wilsonville and Laurie’s part-time veterinary practice in Woodburn.

Laurie’s full-time job is tending her Saanen, La Mancha, and Alpine goats, which make up the Tempo herd.

“I’ve always worked with goats,” Laurie said. “I was born into it!”

Growing up on a goat farm, she began her herd as a 4-H project and has maintained them ever since, moving them down to the farm just out of Mount Angel 17 years ago.

“Predominately, my work is in genetics; breeding and raising high production milk goats,” she said. “I milk 42 goats twice a day and use the milk to prove genetics and feed calves as well as personal use.”

Until recently, the goats’ milk was a by-product of a breeding-centric farm. However, when cheesemaker Liz Alvis approached Laurie about purchasing the goats’ milk for a start-up creamery, the milk found new purpose.

“I’d been approached by people before about using the milk for cheese,” Laurie said, “but I don’t even like to cook much less make cheese. So when Liz offered to buy the milk and make the cheese herself it seemed like a good fit.”

Liz recently aided her mother’s start-up McKenzie Creamery in Ohio. In 2008, she moved to Portland with the purpose of starting her own creamery.

“I’ve been planning Portland Creamery for the last three years,” Liz said. “I originally wanted it to be an urban creamery but after making several calls and talking to many people it was serendipitous that I connected Laurie.”

Liz, having previously worked in the wine industry, recognized the importance of raw material origins.

“Each herd is unique in its own fence,” Liz said. “Just like wine, there can be one variety from two different places and taste completely different.”

With a great appreciation for the quality of animals that Laurie raises, Liz moved her plans to the country, commuting down to Tempo Farm several days a week.

And she couldn’t be more pleased. Not only has she found a reliable, top-quality milk source, but her creamery is in the same location as the herd and the milking parlor.

Focusing on chevre, a soft, fresh goat cheese, Portland Creamery currently produces four core varieties – Oregon Chevre (plain), Sweet Fire, Herbs de Provence, and Lemon Blueberry. Liz plans on developing seasonal flavors as well, incorporating unique flavors and using ingredients from local growers.

Chevre is the most common type of goat cheese. Fresh, soft, and mild, chevre lends itself well to ingredient additions with its ability to absorb flavors.

“Goat’s milk is suited to flavor absorption more than any other type of dairy,” Laurie said. “That’s where it’s gotten its bad rep.” If goat’s milk is handled incorrectly, has contaminates, or is exposed to bad smells, the milk will easily take on unflattering flavors. However, when handled correctly, goat’s milk is surprisingly mild. It is also creamier than cow’s milk and more digestible due to its smaller fat droplets.

Appreciative of the herd’s quality, Liz said, “Above all, I’m looking to capture the uniqueness of the milk source with my cheese-making practices, using only the best quality ingredients.”

Even in today’s economy, Liz is confident that Portland Creamery will meet with quick success.

“Chevre historically does well in a down economy,” she said. “When pocket books tighten people replace meals out with dining in, treating themselves to specialty items that are easy to prepare like chevre.” Liz also said that the current food trend toward healthy, responsible, local foods sheds a favorable light on local chevre.

Opening in August, Portland Creamery will first be sold at trade shows and to chefs before making it to specialty markets in 4 oz. tubs, which Liz estimates will range from $6 to $8 each.

Figgy Chevre

“My favorite way to eat chevre, whether its just me and John at home or if we have people over, is to warm it slightly with some fig jam and scoop with a graham cracker.” – Laurie Acton

Adapted from Laurie Acton

½ cup Chevre
½ cup fig jam
Graham crackers (in 1/4s)

Mound chevre onto serving plate. Heat in the microwave for 10 seconds or covered with foil in a 350 degree oven for 5 min. or until slightly warm.
Ring with jam and serve with crackers.

Pistachio Orange Chevre with Ginger Snaps

Orange Chevre with Ginger Snaps“I would pair this with a local beer, a stout would balance the gingersnaps well. If you want wine, a J. Christopher Sauvignon Blanc matches the acidity nicely.”  – Liz Alvis

Adapted from Liz Alvis

10 oz. Chevre
1/3 cup shelled whole Pistachios (or ¼ cup chopped)
zest of 1 Orange

In a medium mixing bowl, combine chevre and zest. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow cheese to infuse.

Add pistachios just before serving to preserve the crunchiness of the nuts and creaminess of the cheese.
Spoon into serving bowl, surround with cookies.

Scoop cheese mixture with the cookies.

Classic Warm Goat Cheese Salad

“This is one of my mom’s favorite recipes,”  – Liz Alvis

Adapted from Liz Alvis

11 oz log Chevre
2 eggs, beaten w/1 tbsp water
fresh white bread crumbs
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp Champagne vinegar
pinch salt
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 jumbo egg yolk
1 cup olive oil
Olive oil, unsalted butter
Mixed salad greens for 6

Slice chevre crosswise into 12 ½ inch slices. (Dental floss makes for easy slicing)
Dip each cheese slice into the beaten eggs, then bread crumbs coating thoroughly. Repeat by dipping back in the eggs the bread crumbs
Place the slices on a cookie rack and chill for 30 min.
Place the vinegars, sugar, salt, pepper, and egg yolk in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and blend for one minute.
With the processor motor running slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube until the vinaigrette is thickened. Season to taste.
Toss salad greens with enough dressing to moisten. Divide among six plates.
Melt 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until just under smoking. Cook the cheese rounds quickly on both sides until browned on the outside but not melted inside. Top each salad with two warm rounds and serve.
Make 6 servings.

  1. 2 Responses to “Cheese, please: Special herd basis of new Portland Creamery”

  2. By Pat Lantz on Nov 29, 2011

    I have had the pleasure of tasting this wonderful cheese. The lemon blueberry is to die for.

  3. By Pat Lantz on Nov 29, 2011

    A wonderful article for deserving people.

    What a pleasant way to spend a summer day, good company nd great cheese.

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