Local Cheesemonger casts cheese in starring role with drool-inducing summer co-stars

By Theresa Schaefer in B-Town Blog, published August 12, 2023

Courtney Johnson is co-owner of Burien-based Street Cheese LLC, a mobile cheese shop whose unique concept sprouted during the pandemic and is soon to blossom into a full brick and mortar offering.

Along with her co-founder and creative director Tailor Kowis, the pair bring a collective 20 years of experience guiding patrons to discover the joy of cheese in its myriad and versatile forms and flavors, especially when paired with seasonal specialties such as fresh fruits, herbs and produce.

August is King County Eat Local month, when Tilth Alliance, Seattle and King County partners are encouraging us all to support growers, producers and retailers of high quality locally-produced foods in an effort to stimulate economic and environmental sustainability in this essential category of our local economy. With that in mind, we sat down with Johnson to find out easy and delicious ways to make the most of locally produced goods that are perfect for our glorious PNW summer. We discovered that the “feel-good” of eating local is perhaps out shone by the “taste-good’ right here at home.

Looking first at the “feel good,” Johnson pointed out the lower carbon footprint of choosing locally-produced foods, in part due to the easier transport as compared to out of state or international products. Community Supported Agriculture  also came up and is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library as one type of direct marketing. It consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. 

“The pandemic highlighted the impact of our current globalized food supply, revealing networks that can breakdown,” Johnson added. 

The benefits of supporting local producers becomes obvious through that lens, leading many to focus on “intentional eating” as a a way to direct their financial resources toward building a vibrant local food economy.

At Street Cheese, LLC that’s all important, with a strong emphasis on high quality domestic cheese especially those available locally. 

“Summer is peak season for fresh cheese because milk is actually seasonal” said Johnson. This means that now is a great time to eat goat and sheep’s milk soft and fresh cheeses, which can be enjoyed with the bounty of stone fruits which are in season in August. Fresh Mozzarella with tomatoes or plums and local Buratta with peaches create fresh and satisfying harmonies of taste as appetizers or side dishes. Even a peach preserve can inject a summer feel to a soft cheese offering. Johnson gave a special shout-out to fellow local business (McCormick Jam), who you can often find at the Burien Farmer’s Market. Of particular note, is their peach habanero jam, whose spicy notes bring balance to the peach sweetness.

“Fantello Farmstead Creamery makes a Raclette that is the perfect cheese for grilling,” Johnson said. “They are one of the best being made in Washington.” She pointed out that the cheese is great to melt on beef or veggie burgers on the grill.

A butter board is another unique treat to delight you family or guests.  Johnson suggested  that “Cherry Valley Dairy stands out as a most awarded butter in the American Cheese Society national competitions.” Both their Coffee Butter and Herbed Rose butter were mentioned by Johnson as “must try” items to bring infusions of new flavor to the gluten free breads and crackers they offer from Street Cheese.

Is your mouth watering yet? If so, you’ll want to take note of the helpful Top Ten Cheeses for summer which Johnson shared with us. They will give you plenty of inspiration to really savor the last of the season with gusto.

Courtney’s Top 10 local cheeses for summer, in no particular order other than King County creameries first:

  • Cherry Valley Dairy Herbed Rose Butter (cow’s milk butter / Duvall, WA)
  • Fantello Farmstead Filomena (raw cow’s milk Raclette / Enumclaw, WA)
  • Beecher’s Handmade Cheese New Woman (cow’s milk Cheddar-style cheese with Jamaican jerk seasoning / Seattle, WA)
  • Lost Peacock Creamery Halloumi (goat’s milk Halloumi / Olympia, WA)
  • Harmony Fields Fleecemaker (sheep’s milk Feta / Bow, WA)
  • Ferndale Farmstead Fior di latte Mozzarella Ciliegine or Ovoline (cow’s milk Mozzarella / Ferndale, WA)
  • Tieton Farm & Creamery Velvet (goat and sheep’s milk soft-ripened cheese / Tieton, WA)
  • Glendale Shepherd Brebis Frais with Garlic & Dill (sheep’s milk soft, fresh cheese / Clinton, WA)
  • Samish Bay Cheese Queso Jalapeño (cow’s milk Queso Fresco with fresh jalapenos / Bow, WA)
  • Mountain Lodge Farm Paradise (goat’s milk soft-ripened cheese / Eatonville, WA)

Pairings featuring King County creameries:

  • Cherry Valley Dairy Fromage Blanc stuffed into squash blossoms
  • Fantello Farmstead Creamery Filomena melted on a burger or over a bratwurst
  • Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Marco Polo in a summer vegetable quiche made with pastured eggs

Pairings featuring some creameries beyond King County:

  • Ferndale Farmstead Fior di latte Mozzarella in a salad with sliced heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers drizzled with olive oil and flaky sea salt
  • Harmony Fields Fleecemaker in a watermelon and basil salad with chili flakes
  • Clover Mountain Dairy Tamarack Gouda on a grilled pizza

And some local beverage pairings:

  • Cascadia Creamery Sawtooth with Machine House Brewing’s Bitter (beer)
  • Black Sheep Creamery Honey Vanilla Sheep Cheese with Heirophant Meadery Meadjito (mead)
  • Tieton Farm & Creamery Rheba with The Orcas Project Sparkling Pet-Nat Dolcetto (wine)
  • Acme Farms Cheese Camembert with Tieton Cider Works Wild Washington Apple Cider (cider)

An example of an all-local pairing plate from a class at Bickersons Brewhouse in Ballard with Erika Kubick of Cheese Sex Death on July 7:

  • Whipped Chevre (Lost Peacock Creamery) with Beeworks Farm Fireweed Honey
  • Petit Brie (Acme Farms Cheese) with Girl Meets Dirt Orchard Apricot Spoon Preserves
  • Sawtooth (Cascadia Creamery) with pickled red onions
  • Mopsy’s Best (Black Sheep Creamery) with Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards Raw Hazelnuts
  • Whatcom Blue (Twin Sisters Creamery) with Spinnaker Chocolate 70% Belize

Enjoy Street Cheese at Logan Brewing’s Block Party Weekend!

You can also enjoy some of Street Cheese, LLC’s enticing Charcuterie Cones this weekend  on Saturday, Aug. 12 and Sunday, Aug. 13, from Noon – 5 p.m. at Logan Brewing Company’s 3rd Anniversary Block Party at their brewery in downtown Burien. Or stop by their pop-up shop on Saturday, Aug. 19 when they will be selling out of the Discover Burien walk-up window at 611 SW 152nd Street in Burien.

Eating local couldn’t be easier or more delicious.