Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Spring Brook Farms located in Reading, Vermont. Equipped with copper vats (very unusual to find this process locally), this dairy farm uses its cow’s milk to make two award winning and spectacular cheeses: Tarentaise and Reading.
Tarentaise is a fantastic fall cheese to pair with some crisp apples during this chilly weather. Named for a region in France, this mouthwatering cheese is produced from the raw milk of 40 Jersey cows and aged for a minimum of ten months.
There are no additives, preservatives, synthetic flavors or wax added; consequently the flavor comes from both the care used in making the cheese and the beneficial live cultures added to the cheese itself! The cultures are responsible for the complexity in flavor and the warm caramel color of the rind.
By the time Tarentaise is ready for sale it has been turned and washed in a brine bath 60 times in the aging room. The fromager’s inspiration comes from the long tradition of cheese making in the French Alps. Taretaise has a distinct and unique flavor indigenous to Vermont. What an exceptional and distinct semi-hard cheese: buttery, nutty with definite hints of spicy notes. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and salty. While relaxing I enjoyed this winner with a glass of Dunham 2007 Cabernet. Ambrosial pairing!
Reading, the second cheese produced at Spring Brook, is a semi-soft cheese, aged for a minimum of three months. It can hold its own on any cheese plate, yet partners beautifully with the Tarentaise. The texture is creamy and the flavor is nutty and unique to the cows grazing on the Vermont pastures. Reading is not only fabulous as a hard cheese but is spectacular as a melting cheese. Melt this baby over meats, potatoes, vegetables and breads. Yum!
What makes Spring Brook so unique is the Farms For City Kids Foundation. In operation since 1994, groups of children visit the farm for a week at a time to experience a farm- based curriculum. They have the ability to work the farm and learn about the process from where the food comes. Making the cheese at Spring Brook allows for the children to study economics, chemistry, microbiology, food preservation, health and nutrition. I was lucky enough to experience a small taste of this course and found it to be quite unforgettable.
All the funds from the sales of both Tarentaise and Reading go to support the foundation so that they may continue to inspire these special children.