Now, as a cheesemonger, I know I should probably love all cheeses and creameries equally–but I do have to say Vermont Creamery has a special place in my heart. One of the few creameries I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, my experience there was more than I had hoped for.
We arrived on a gorgeous, sunny day to a small unassuming building with a little plaque reading “Vermont Creamery- Creamery Office”. Inside, we were greeted with warm smiles and some good coffee (unlike the cup I’d had at the hotel’s free breakfast…). As I slurped my cup of Joe, we were introduced to our tour guide for the day, Sam Hooper (relative to co-founder Allison Hooper), and as our coffees settled into our bellies, we geared up for our tour of the creamery.
And by “geared up”, I mean scrubbed up!
Creameries are incredibly controlled environments; everything including temperature and humidity is controlled to ensure the quality of the end product being made. Before entering, you have to scrub your arms, elbows down, and wear sterile scrubs, head to toe–including a very fashionable hairnet. Then we were finally ready!
And let me tell you, walking through Vermont Creamery was such a homey experience; everyone says hello to you and to one another, and it’s so evident how passionate they are about their jobs. While the creamery does in fact use advanced machinery for many aspect of their production, many of their artisan cheeses still require a human’s touch. Take for example their Bonne Bouche, which is hand ladled and rotated during its aging process, and their Herb Goat Log, which is literally hand-rolled in herbs (No pictures were allowed, but I saw it, I swear!).
When we finished our walkthrough of the creamery, we were treated to a cheeselover’s dream lunch–a cheese platter of course!–featuring the creamery’s own delicious cheeses, butter, and crème fraiche.
With our bellies satisfied, our next stop was the goat farm where Vermont Creamery gets a lot of their milk. I’m totally a dog person and I think they may well be one of the cutest things in the world–but if you’ve never seen a real goat in person before, they might be a close second.
Ayers Goat Dairy, also accompanied by a cute little sign, a bit of a drive from the creamery itself, and boasting the largest single rooftop solar field in the state.
We got to see where the goats hang out, where they breed, where they’re born (even got to see some newborns!), and of course where they’re milked twice a day. Excuse me while I bombard you with some photos…
So before I get carried away with these adorable goats, there are so many reasons why Vermont Creamery is super awesome, so here’s my short list to sum it up:
- Super delicious, high quality products–
- –made by passionate people.
- Family-owned and run
- Good to their employees
- Environmentally friendly & sustainable
- Certified B Corp
- Supports local family farms
- Supports the local community
- Hires lots of women (50% of management! Yay gender equality!)
- LOOK AT THOSE GOATS
Have you gotten the opportunity to visit any creameries you fell in love with? Tell us about it in the comments!
I’ve done it again!–found another amazing cheese, of course.
If you’ve been keeping up with me here are the BKVineyardMarket blog, you may already know that I kinda have a thing for stinky cheese. Now if you haven’t been keeping up with me or you’re not all that familiar with the diversity of cheese, “stinky cheese” is just a more blunt way of saying “washed rind”. Washed rind cheeses are simply cheeses that have been “washed” or bathed in some sort of a brine during their aging process, imparting a new class of flavors and sometimes making the cheese quite pungent (read more about washed rind cheeses here).
Jasper Hill Farm, a highly regarded creamery, not only makes their own specialty cheeses, but they actually specialize in aging others’ cheeses in their unique cellars. Oma is one of these such cheeses. Coming from Von Trapp Farmstead in Vermont, Oma is a delightful raw milk cheese, made entirely with organic cows’ milk mostly from Jersey cows. It’s aged for about 10 weeks before it’s pulled and sent out for purchase!
Now when I call Oma a “stinky cheese”, please do not let this scare you. Washed rind cheeses come in a variety of shapes and sizes and, most importantly, pungency. That being said, Oma is a very approachable washed rind cheese, similarly to Taleggio but with just a little more oomph. My assistant and I got to give it a taste yesterday and we both agreed it’s a winner. The paste is springy but spreadable, sort of like St. Albray, and the flavor isn’t quite as pungent as it is complex. It’s got a buttery almost meaty taste to it followed by a very subtle sweet note. If you want to go big and try the rind, like my assistant always does, it gives a whole new taste to the cheese, introducing a nice earthy note.
With its flavor profile, I think this cheese could go well with a variety of beers; Jasper Hill recommends trying it with a Belgian Dubbel. As for wine, you could go red with a nice Burgundy or Pinot Noir, or if you prefer white try a good Riesling. As divine as it is by itself, you know I always have some accompaniment suggestions for you; try it with some roasted salted nuts or fig jam, and of course some crusty artisan bread.
I think it’s finally safe to say: it’s Fall, y’all! (please pardon use of cliché phrase…) Once October hits, all the things we love about autumn seem to surface: sweater weather, all things pumpkin & apple spice, and all things Halloween. And of course with the start of a new month, we here at the Vineyard Markets transition into a brandy new Cheese of the Month.
I’m so excited to share this new cheese with you, hailing from one of my most beloved creameries, Vermont Creamery!
If you’re familiar with Vermont Creamery at all (check out a couple other posts on them here and here), you may recall that they’re famous for their variety of fresh and aged goat cheeses. Well folks, say hello to their first aged cow’s milk cheese and our new Cheese of the Month: St. Albans.
Just like all of their other products, St. Albans comes in this gorgeous packaging that’s just super appealing and, more specifically, functional. Each little wheel comes packed inside a mini ceramic crock, ideal for baking the cheese within in the oven to make a gooey and delicious quick fondue! But before you bake it, I highly recommend trying it as is.
St. Albans is actually hand-shaped (literally) and aged for just 11 days, long enough to develop a thin and delicate rind. The flavor is pure decadence. Even before it’s at room temperature, St. Albans is ooey and gooey and full of deliciousness; rich and milky with just a slight bit of tang, almost reminiscent of the creamery’s Cremont cheese.
Looking for a pairing? Try St. Albans with a nice bottle of bubbly for some contrast. Accompaniments? Add a little apricot jam with a dash of cracked black pepper. And if you’re looking to go the fondue route, just warm in the oven until super melty and add a pinch of salt and pepper. No matter which way you go, you won’t be disappointed with St. Albans at your table.
Apple picking season is among us!
I know this because I, along with a multitude of others, went apple picking with my family last weekend! And we had gorgeous weather for it–not too hot or too cold, and barely a cloud in the sky.
Whenever we have these family get-togethers, we usually conclude with a big old fashioned family dinner, and, since I’ve been in the Vineyard Market, I’m the one responsible for providing the appetizers (cheese, of course!).
This time around, I really wanted to find a cheese that worked well on a few levels: it had to go well with the two jams I was bringing (Belberry Raspberry & Star Anise + Rothschild Farm Pineapple Habanero) and it had to taste good alongside from freshly picked and cut crispy apples. And boy have I outdone myself.
I give you Beecher’s Extra Aged Flagship, aged for a whopping 4 years! You might recall Beecher’s creamery from the Vineyard Market featuring their four signature cheeses as well as our field trip to their creamery nearby in New York City (for a refresher, click here).
This latest Beecher’s cheese we’ve got our hands on is aged for 30 months longer than their original Beecher’s Flagship cheddar. This gives it a way more developed flavor while still making it an incredibly approachable cheese. It’s rich and creamy with lots of little crunchy pieces within (yum!). Great served with your spoils from apple picking or just by itself cubed up. Fancy a glass of wine? Try this guy with a buttery Chardonnay to really bring out its richness.
* Check with your local Bottle King Vineyard Market for stock of this tasty cheese.
So I know the weather is finally starting to cool down and barbeques are coming to an end, but I think this just-beginning Fall weather is the perfect time for an outside get together. The temperature is just about perfect.
This post is a neat little idea from Ellie, our Vineyard Market lead in Ramsey, and I think it’s such a great and easy idea for a party appetizer or picnic.
What you’ll need:
- 1 loaf of your favorite Il Forno bread (we used Puglia)
- 1 container of your favorite Spinach dip
- choose from Cedar’s greek yogurt base
- Corinne’s sour cream base
- Chamon’s cream cheese base
How to do it:
- Using a sharp knife, very carefully slice out the “guts” of your bread to hollow it out.
- Fill your hollowed out bread with your spinach dip of choice.
- Use chunks of bread that you scooped out for dipping! If you want to bring it to the next level, toast the bread chunks with a drizzle of olive oil–yum!
Got any fun food ideas? Let us know!
And just like that, folks, summer has come to a close–more or less. While the official first day of Fall has yet to come, I’m sure most of us can agree that the time for sunny beach days is now a thing of the past in exchange for back-to-school and soon-to-come crisp weather.
Anyone else as excited as I am?
If not, you will be once I tell you about our awesome new Cheese of the Month! I give you: Dziugas! Looks like a mouthful, I know, but it’s really quite simple with a nice soft “J” sound: joo-GAHS.
Hailing from Lithuania–don’t worry, I didn’t know they made cheese either–this cheese is aged for 36 months, resulting in a hard and almost crumbly texture. And just wait until you take a bite. The flavors are bold and complex; nutty but with a subtle sweetness. Dziugas reminds me almost of an Italian-style hard cheese because it’s got a nicely sharp but well-balanced bite.
With so much flavor, Dziugas makes for a delightful pairing with many big red wines or even a Brown Ale or Saison. For some super tasty accompaniments, try it with fresh figs and prosciutto.