The next time you venture to Bow via Chuckanut Drive, keep your eyes peeled for a wood-paneled farm store flanked by a cow statue. This unassuming shop serves as a storefront for Golden Glen Creamery, a local dairy farmstead offering more than 20 types of fresh cheese plus slow-churned butter.
“We are called a farmstead because of the fact that we use our own milk,” says Owner Norma Ruiz. “It’s a family-run operation: mom, dad, niece, everybody.”
Golden Glen has been in operation since 2009 and was purchased by Norma Ruiz in 2014. Being responsible for every step of production allows her to be very specific about the quality and consistency of the milk used to make cheese and butter. Golden Glen’s products are free of additives and pasteurized using a slow-batch process as opposed to the High Temperature Short Time (HTST) method used by larger corporations.
More precision leads to better quality, but it also requires dedication– and, in Ruiz’s case, a 4 a.m. wake-up call.
“From catching your milk, to making the cheese, to cutting the cheese, to packaging that cheese, and sending it out to the customer, it is just something that I guess you have to love and enjoy,” Ruiz says. “Because it’s a lot of hard work.”
Everything at Golden Glen is done by hand, and for Ruiz, making cheese isn’t so different from making art. Whether she’s deciding the style of cheese or the aging process, there are plenty of opportunities to put her stamp on the final product.
Golden Glen’s offerings include cheddar and gouda, both of which can be purchased from medium all the way up to an extra reserve (aged for five years). Their parmesan can be described as “table parm”; it’s less dry than typical parmesan and works well as a snack with crackers, fruit, or jam. There’s also fresh mozzarella and cow’s milk feta, the latter of which Ruiz notes is less pungent and works well as a substitute for queso fresco.
Each cheese is delicious in its own right, but the river cheddar is a fan favorite (and Ruiz’s personal favorite when making mac and cheese).
““The river cheddar is our signature cheese,” she says. “We add extra cream, so it makes it extra smooth. I mean, it’s almost like it could melt in your mouth if it’s at room temperature.”
In addition, Golden Glen incorporates a variety of creative flavors into their butter and cheddar.
“We do a dill and garlic [cheddar]. There’s also sweet basil, red peppers… so it is just fun,” Ruiz says. “We even have a lavender cheese that is really popular with wine.”
To find out what the fuss is about, you can purchase Golden Glen cheese and butter at Haggen Food & Pharmacy as well as Community Food Co-Ops in both Skagit and Whatcom counties. Local eateries such as SeaBear Smokehouse, The Old Edison, and Snow Goose Produce also use dairy from Golden Glen. That said, Ruiz says the best place to pick up their products is the farm store itself.
“We’re a really small little town. I mean, not a whole lot of people know about Bow,” Ruiz says. “I always encourage people to come out, especially during summertime.” 15014 Field Rd., Bow, 360.766.6455, goldenglencreamery.com