Ever since Alissa Shethar, cheesemaker at North Bay Curds & Whey in Berkeley, announced that she was going to make buffalo milk cheese, I have been in a state of frenzied anticipation. Thank goodness she and I are both on the regulatory affairs committee of the California Artisan Cheese Guild! She was generous to bring in a wheel to share at our last meeting. At long last, I had my chance! And I got to take some home with me to photograph and share with you!
Once again, true love found a whey in our 2013 cheese-love poetry contest.
wendyleek was the soul of brevity with her three line pun-fest, while Coffee Lover charmed some of our judges with her innocent simplicity. Finally, monger Gordon Edgar's elegant sestina took the prize for its deeply felt examination of a life working in cheese.
It's that time again! Time to pen your poetic verses on the subject all of us know and love: cheese. That's right, our annual Valentine's Poetry contest is officially underway! We're appreciative of any style -- send us your haikus, free verse, limericks, sonnets, pantoums, whatever. Silly or serious, we'll take it, as long as it's inspired, and full of cheesy goodness (or hilarity, irony, declarations of love, whatever).
To submit your poem, sign in or sign up for the website, and leave a comment on this blog! All entries must be received by Monday, February 11th. The lucky winners will recieve a Fresh Goat Cheese Heart from Coach Farm (pictured). Need some inspiration? Check out last year's winners.
Photo by André Baranowski
For me, this autumn has been gastrocentric. Scrumptious seasonal ingredients and the cool, crisp weather make me want to spend hours in the kitchen, which is exactly what I did this past weekend. In addition to baking apple crumb cake and oatmeal dark chocolate chip cookies, I also made my first ever raviolis.
The inspiration for this meal was my request, maybe it was a demand, for goat cheese and butternut squash, but the recipe is Ben's. I provided the challenge to think up something ideal for fall and he formulated this fun project and delicious meal. I also made sure it was recorded.
I first began the Birth of a Creamery blog on March 24th, 2011, optimistically calling the first chapter “Four Years and 364 Days” for the 4 years of planning that had gone into our creamery plan and the “less than a year” promise I was given for how soon we could complete construction. Well March 23rd 2012 has come and gone, but with all the hoops and hick-ups we went through in the planning process we should have foreseen that construction wouldn’t be without its own hurtles. Thankfully we are only a few weeks over our mid-March deadline. On Thursday May 10th Pennyroyal officially became California’s newest licensed creamery!
Only ten days since my last post, but as we approach completion the final work is adding up quickly. Ceiling panels and ceiling light fixtures were completed last week, though joints between the ceiling and walls still need to be sealed. The viewing light fixtures in the aging room walls still need to be installed as well. Unfortunately our crew framed them from the dimensions on the cut sheets without verifying the measurements of the actual fixtures, so the holes are too large and will require flashing for a clean finish. No construction project gets completed without a hitch, and this is one of the many (albeit one of the least daunting) we have faced over the last 12 months of building.
In the last two and a half weeks there have been some major deliveries at Pennyroyal, and only some of them were stainless steel.
Since February 24th there have been 174 kids born and 21 lambs, of which 9 doe kids and all 11 ewe lambs were retained for the Pennyroyal herd (we are still increasing the size of the sheep flock, but only need enough doe kids to replace the geriatric goats). The remaining kids and the ram lambs have all been sold as meat animals, for browsing programs, to 4H youth for fair projects, for people wanting dairy animals, or as pets. There are still another 20 goats left to kid between now and the 24th of April, but the chaos of 10 or 12 due in a single day is behind us.
The first three weeks of February have been productive ones at the creamery. Both aging rooms received three coats of plaster. The first coat was very rough, and served the purpose of filling the gap between the radiant cooling tubing and the insulation of the walls. The second coat was another “rough” coat, intended to increase the thickness of the wall. The third coat is a “smooth” coat. The smooth coat ensures that all of the walls are level. The final wall finish, a polyurethane cement, will be applied over this smooth plaster. During the application and drying of the plaster coats, the radiant tubing was pressurized, thus any expansion or contraction of the tubing which may occur when chill water is being circulated will not damage the walls.
This morning our first delivery of cheese making equipment arrived from Fromagex in Quebec, much of it having first made the trip from France to Canada, before working its way through U.S. Customs. I also received a call from the company shipping the stainless steel draining tables we had fabricated by Custom Metalcraft to set-up a delivery date for later this week.The pasteurizer should be arriving at the port in southern California in a few weeks. In short, everything is starting to come together. Inside the creamery progress continues as well.