Feta (Harley Farms)
Located in Pescadero, California, Harley Farms is a restored dairy farm that dates back to 1910. Owned and run by Dee Harley, a native of Britain, this is the only remaining dairy in San Mateo County, a once thriving dairy region. Having originally started with six pet goats, Harley Farms is now home to over 200 American Alpine goats. The milk is transformed into farmstead cheeses daily.
Harley Farms’ Feta is produced over a few weeks in batches of 50 gallons of milk. More cultures and rennet are added than in the production of the farm’s fresh chèvres, and batches are held at a different temperature. After the milk curdles into a kind of thick yogurt, cheesemakers cut out one-inch squares, which are then left to drain for 30 minutes. Curds are hand-stirred gently to release a bit more whey, then pressed in stainless steel baskets overnight. The following day, cheesemakers cut the curds into two-pound blocks, which are then salted and placed in a cooler for two days to dry. Blocks are stored in buckets of 25% salt brine over two months. Just before release they’re stored for a few days in a 4% brine to relieve some of the salt.
Definitely on the salty side when compared with other fetas, the initial kick of saltiness in this chalky-textured yet fondant cheese melts into a beautifully savory, complex flavor. We’re reminded of fresh cream and seawater, and bitter, buttery notes linger.
Pair it with a Chenin Blanc, a rosé or a Hefeweizen.