Skagit Food Co-op blog:

the Cheese Whisperer

New! Ferndale Farmstead Cheese

Cheese made with passion is a treat. The Co-op is excited to bring you Ferndale Farmstead, locally made artisan cheese crafted in the Italian tradition. Visit our Specialty Cheese Island to meet Ferndale Farmstead’s family of fresh cheeses, made in the Pasta Filata or “stretched curd” style, for excellent melt-a-bility and great flavor.

fernfarmchsThree generations of the Wavrin family proudly present the Farmstead Ferndale cheeses, which are made directly on the family’s farm in Whatcom County, under the watchful eye of their 35 year veteran cheese maker, Italian-born Raffaele Mascolo. With Raffaele’s help and connection to his homeland, Ferndale Farmstead cheeses have been blessed with support from across the world, including special cultures and enzymes from a small Italian culture house and fine European equipment manufactured to craft specialty cheese.

The Ferndale Farmstead dairy operates with a “closed loop system” philosophy, with its cattle grazing nearly year-round on grasses and pasture land. The herd is a mixture of Holstein, Jersey, Scandinavian Red, and Montbeliarde breeds. The cows are born on the dairy and taken care of by Kevin and his crew, under the supervision of licensed veterinarian Dr. Bill Wavrin.

The Co-op currently offers the following Ferndale Farmstead cheeses:

  • Fior de Latte: meaning “blossom of milk” in Italian, this fresh mozzarella style cheese is made the old fashioned way with Italian cultures instead of vinegar to impart a delicate yet full flavor. This mozzarella is made with whole milk, adding protein and texture to caprese-style fresh salads, pizza, quesadillas, frittatas or grilled cheese sandwiches. 1 lb for $8.99.
  • Caciotta: a semi-aged, sliceable, popular Italian table cheese. Ferndale’s Caciotta is buttery and smooth, with a mild flavor. Serve it simply on a cheese tray with bread and olives or melt it into a creamy sauce for over grilled vegetables. $7.49 per miniature 0.5 lb wheel.
  • scamorzaScamorza: this signature Italian cheese is hung on ropes to age — a technique used by artisans for hundreds of years — to give it a distinct shape. The Scamorza is a relative to the Fior de Latte, with a bolder, nuttier flavor and firmer texture. Makes an excellent addition to lasagna, where gooey, melted “stretched curd” cheeses take center stage. $11.99 per 12 oz.

Like many folks, Co-op staff is partial to a classic Caprese-style salad, with layers of fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil meet a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. However, we were blown away by the following recipe for Cheesy Bruschetta — it makes a tasty appetizer, snack, or meal, especially on warm, breezy days. Add pickled peppers, capers, or grilled eggplant for additional flavor.

Cheesy Bruschetta Recipe 


  • 1 baguette, sliced into about even rounds
  • 1 pound Ferndale Farmstead fresh mozzarella, diced
  • 2 fresh heirloom (or Roma) tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup pitted Castelveltrano green olives, diced
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced (from Co-op Olive Bar)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and ground black pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 350° F. Place baguette slices on two sheet pans and toast for 5-10 minutes, until the bread is lightly crisped. Evenly distribute the fresh mozzarella on the toasted baguette slices. Return to the oven for another 2-3 minutes to melt the cheese. While the bread is toasting, in a large bowl, mix the fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, olives, garlic, olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper. Top the toasted baguette slices and mozzarella with the tomato mixture and serve immediately with a smile.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.