I’m finishing up a week of traveling the fjords and roads of Norway, trying to scope out the cheese scene in this country better known for salmon and sweaters. One of the first things I discovered on my Scandinavian beat is that the average Norwegian refers to her/his cheese by color: they have their white cheese, their yellow cheese, some blue cheese, and plenty of brown cheese. Color indicts familiar supermarket cheese. They know, for instance, what to expect from a slice of white cheese.
I heard this morning with great sadness that Ig Vella of Vella Cheese (and the original owner of Rogue Creamery) died last night. One of the few elder statesmen in the evolution of both Californian cheese and the American artisanal cheese movement, Ig will be sorely missed for his incredible knowledge and perspective—not to mention his unique personality.
My first encounter with Ig was shortly after I moved to California from London, when I went to visit his cheesemaking facility in Sonoma. Upon arrival I was met by a large-framed, unsmiling man dressed in what I later learned were his trademark red suspenders and slightly-too-small paper hat. I was immediately intrigued – and smitten!