Virginia Is For Cheese Lovers (Part II)
Earlier this month I attended the American Cheese Society (ACS) Conference in Richmond, VA. I wrote a post about my first two days at the Conference that you can read here. Due to some personal health issues, I had to take a break from working on the website for a little bit, but now I'm returned and ready to talk about the final two days I spent at the conference, learning about dairy farming and climate change, sober pairings, and of course - the awards and festival of cheese!
Virginia Is For Cheese Lovers (Part I)
Last week I got to attend the American Cheese Society (ACS) Conference in Richmond, VA. The week was jam packed with new cheese, new friends, new information, and new ideas. Upon returning home, my to-do list for Topsoil and Rain is longer than ever, in a wonderfully exciting way. There's no way I could fit everything into a few blog posts, but I've decided to write two, to give a general overview of what I did at the conference and what I learned there, especially for anyone who is curious about attending next year!
Pierce Point from Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes, CA
This is not my first cheese from Cowgirl Creamery - I've had the Red Hawk a few times, and I'm a big fan of the Mount Tam, but I'd never had anything else from them, so when I saw this little herby bloomy round cheese sitting in the case, I snatched it up. For total honesty though, I have a major bias towards herby cheeses like this - the Julianna from Capriole was the first cheese I ever fell in love with, I pretty much always have some kind of herby chèvre on hand, and Fleur de Maquis had a place on literally every cheese board I made for....several months (haha). So I came into this with pretty high hopes that I would love it!
Bola de Ocosingo, from Chiapas, Mexico
This is a cheese I was CRAZY excited to try. The Bola de Ocosingo is a cheese from Chiapas, Mexico, and is mostly made by small co-ops or farmsteads in the region. It is not available in the United States (yet!! hopefully someday!), but I was fortunate to be able to get a little ball from Jessica Fernández, a super cool cheesemonger from Mexico. She works with Lactography, and knows all kinds of great info about Mexican artisan cheeses and when she came to visit New York, I asked her to bring me something, anything, cool and curdy from her home country. And she delivered!!
The Rosemary Mulberry Spice
I had a lot of fun creating this new Sober Pairing drink. We have fresh mulberries growing on some trees here on the farm, so I spent an afternoon picking the ones that were perfectly ripe, and then making the simple syrup which is the base of this drink. If you don't have mulberries growing near you, any fresh in-season berry will work, though blackberries would probably be the closest in flavor. There are a few more steps to this drink than the last so let's get into it!
Kashmiri Pepper and Blue Cheese Brownies
These Kashmiri Pepper and Blue Cheese Brownies were a true labor of love. Two and a half months of recipe tweaking and four full batches made and tested, and the test last night finally got every aspect of these brownies PERFECT (in my totally unbiased opinion) and I am so excited to be able to share them with you. These brownies are super fudgey and rich, with enough Kashmiri spice that you feel it, but it isn't overwhelming. After testing a few different cheeses for this recipe, I ended up using Bayley Hazen Blue from Jasper Hill, which is the perfect texture, and relatively accessible in terms of being able to get your hands on it no matter where you are. That being said, there are a lot of tweaks that you could make with this recipe based on your personal preferences!
Sweet Emotions, from Lazy Lady Farm in Westfield, VT
This is not my first time trying a cheese from Lazy Lady Farm, so I had high hopes when trying this Sweet Emotions wheel for the first time. And fortunately, my high hopes were warranted because this little mixed milk dream is DELICIOUS!
Slice of the Life: Apprentice on a Small Dairy Farm
I get a lot of questions about what it is I do every day, what it is actually like to be a farmer / work on a farm, what I enjoy, what I struggle with, et cetera. So, I thought I would do a little* blog post giving you a slice of life on the farm for one day (namely, yesterday, haha).
*This "little" blog post became very long (lol), but I think it's a good insight into the daily life!
The Flower Garden I
This was one of the very first Sober Pairings I ever created, so it always has a super special place in my heart. Plus, it's incredibly light and refreshing, which makes it perfect for a lazy summer afternoon or a picnic in the park.
Keep Dreaming, from Dorothy's in Lena, IL
Keep Dreaming is a beautiful little ash coated small format cow's milk wheel from Dorothy's is born out of a cheesemaker's dream to create a cheese that starts out creamy and grows in strength as it matures. In this aspect, I feel like Keep Dreaming is reasonably successful.