Autumn is really here. The high winds, residues of American hurricanes, have let us know summer has gone. Now the gathering dark in the mornings & evenings shows we are on the long switchback journey down to the shortest day. The consolation prize is those bright autumn days of colourful leaves vivid in the sunshine, every sunlit detail highlighted by the shadows as the sun gets lower in the sky.
The last month has been a busy one at the creamery. While the guys completed closing in exterior walls and began installing roofing materials massive trenching was underway all around the creamery and dairy.
Below ground level lines were run for electrical cables from the PG&E power boxes at the edge of the property over to the site of the mechanical pad. Pipes for whey and process water were laid from the creamery across the length of the farm to the water treatment tanks that will allow us to recycle our water. The whey will be pumped to a storage tank adjacent to the pigs (which for obvious reasons we don’t want living anywhere within the vicinity of the creamery). A gas line was put in from the creamery to our propane tank which is adjacent to the milking parlor. As with the dairy, we will use propane on-demand water heaters to supply hot water to both the sinks and for the jacket of the pasteurizer.
I have always been madly in love with cheese. I am also quite head over heels in love with the city of Nashville. You can probably imagine my reaction upon finding out that the first annual Southern Artisan Cheese Festivalwill be held in Music City this year. #$@!&*%!!!! I MUST GO!!!!
The South has so much more to offer the culinary world than mayonnaise laden "salads" and sweet tea, and this is the perfect opportunity to come see for yourself. If you happen to be in the area on September 30th, make it a point to come check out what Southern cheese makers are crafting. Dairies such as Sequatchie Cove Creamery, Locust Grove Farm, and Looking Glass Creamery will be there, just to name a few. And what goes better with artisan cheese than honey from Savannah Bee Company, Lusty Monk Mustard, or Olli Salumeria meats? Plenty of specialty food vendors will be there, along with craft beers and wines to wash it all down.
…So this is all going to seem quite like bragging.
Every morning I do something 80 percent of you can’t. I eat yogurt. A steady rotation of mason jars filled with goat, sheep, and cows milk line my refrigerator shelves, sweetly perfumed with pasture, waiting to be poured into ceramic mugs and laced with summer berries, dark honey, or still-warm granola. I eat raw milk yogurt for breakfast, yogurt that I purchase at one of several local shops and farmers markets.
And Maine is one of only ten US states in which eating or drinking the dairy of your choice is legal.*
The results have just been announced for the 2011 British Cheese Awards with the Supreme Champion being Kilree, made by Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese from Ireland.
The hotly anticipated results of the 18th British Cheese Awards were announced last night at a sparkling event at the City Hall in Cardiff. On the eve of the Great British Cheese Festival and signalling the beginning of British Cheese Week, the great and the good of cheese making assembled to celebrate the Oscars of the dairy world, and the star of the show was a goat’s cheese from Stoneyford, County Kilkenny in the Republic of Ireland.
Entries included nearly 700 vegetarian cheeses, 170 raw milk cheeses, 110 organic, 60 blue and over 40 goat and ewe’s milk creations. The judges nosed, nibbled and narrowed the field to a list of winners in 22 categories, representing the nation’s finest possible cheeseboard and declared Kilree, made by Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese the best of the best.
Well I guess you can say I was lost in the woods for awhile and the summer ‘heat’ got the best of me. Now that things have cooled off a bit, I’m back in action and getting all kinds of ideas for blogs.
Fall is one of my favorite times of year- the cool crisp air, being able to wear cozy sweaters and slippers, and enjoying fall’s seasonal food such as squash and apples.
We order apples by the bushel at the cheese shop I work at and they (as some may know) compliment cheese beautifully. The many different varietals are overwhelming. You got your McIntosh, Gala, Empire, and Honey Crisp, and lesser known varietals such as Roxbury Russets, Cox Orange Pippin, Mutsu or Northern Spy. Each of them have varying flavor and texture profiles.
Taza Chocolate in Somerville Ma.
5 years ago Alex Whitmore and partners Larry Slotnick and Kathleen Fulton (also Alex's wife) started this mesoamerican-style bean-to-bar chocolate factory. And true to their vision, this chocolate is handmade from start to finish. They buy their beans in the DR, Mexico, Belize, and they recently added Bolivia. (note: if you get a chance, try the 87% bolivian choc bar side by side with the 80% DR...then you'll really see what terroir means to the cacao bean.)
Their beans are fermented, which means, like all things fermented, flavor is amped. And then they get roasted (in the fabulous Willi Wonka machine pictured below. don't you want one? I do. and it's RED!) The beans are then stone ground, on mexican stone mills that Alex hand chisels himself (check out the pic below of him holding one.) Impressive.
Continuing on the Bavarian and Austrian cheesemaker visits, we stopped by two very different cheesemaking dairies, Kaeskuche Isny and Sennerei Zurwies.
Kaeskuche Isny - Isny im Allgäu
Located in south-eastern Baden-Württemberg, Kaeskuche Isny was founded in 1998 by a group of ecologically-minded dairy farmers with a view to providing a consistent market for their milk as well as the opportunity to showcase its high quality by converting it into cheese.
The farmers formed a co-operative and hired cheesemaker Evelyn Wild to manage and run the dairy. The dairy has proved to be such a success under Evelyn’s management that she has now hired an additional full time cheesemaker, Simon, to focus on production, allowing her to focus on other aspects of the business. Simon was brought up and trained as a cheesemaker in Switzerland.
In many mountainous regions of the world, the summer months bring a tradition of transhumance. This is a centuries-old practice, where people and animals make an annual pilgrimage to the upper slopes of the mountains to take advantage of the bounty of the summer pastures.
Traveling up in late spring and returning in early autumn, they spend several months living and working on their mountain farms, grazing their animals on the myraid of rich summer herbs, grasses and flowers and turning the resulting quality milk into highly prized cheeses. These mountain dairies are frequently situated in breathtakingly beautiful locations, making you feel as if you're on top of the world.