Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sara's Cheesemaking Roadtrip: Meadow Creek Dairy Part 1

Hello Cheese People! So, I'm fresh from an amazing cheese adventure at Meadow Creek Dairy, my mind is spinning and I barely know where to begin...

There were oodles of beautiful bovines, I took some 650 pictures (photo glutton that I am), I witnessed the magic of turning milk into cheese (can you say PH, temperature control, timing and hard work?), and was thoroughly warmed by the generosity of the Feete family and all who work with them at the dairy.

I suppose the best place to start would be with a giant THANK YOU for allowing this cheesemonger to get in the way for a couple days in an attempt to soak in as much cheese as possible! And believe you me, there was an abundance of knowledge, experience, humor, and a willingness to share that was simply great to be around. I must say that in this day and age, it was lovely to be in the company of folks who truly care about quality over quantity. They care about the land, the cows that graze it, the quality of the milk, the resulting cheeses that we ingest, the people that work there, and even the novice/visitors such as myself.

I brought back one of their fine cheeses for us to sample at this Friday's tasting, the Mountaineer. This raw cow's milk cheese is carefully tended to as it ages on wooden shelves for at least six months. The cellar is damp and cool and the scent upon entry is certainly more intense than I anticipated (who knew?). The room holds cheeses in all stages of development - from the day before yesterday's milky, yellow-white, rind-less newbies to the just-about-legal, reddish-gold, brushed-rind adolescents. I wish I could have stacked them all one on top of each other so you could see the different stages for yourself as they transform. (Perhaps I should have gone that extra mile and taken 651 pictures. Ha.) The resulting cheese however, is delightfully reminiscent of Alpine cheeses - semisoft, nutty, earthy, with a tiny hint of brine and butterscotch. Delicious.

There is so much more to tell and so many more pictures to show but it is 2:30 in the morning and I have a busy day tomorrow! I'll get to some blog entries and photo-uploads while I'm on vacation for those of you who want to know more about my trip. Oh, and keep in mind that we are doing an All-American cheese class the first Monday in August and I'm sure that Meadow Creek Dairy will be included in the line-up. Hope to see you there!