Every dream must begin somewhere. In my case, the dream of a farmstead creamery began all the way across the country, during a dreary Pacific Northwest winter; since then we have been moving slowly towards that goal. So far that has involved quitting a job, moving across the country and taking up residence on the family farm.
Georges Mill Farm is home to me, my husband Sam, many extended family members, chickens, goats, and Georges Mill Farm Artisan Cheese. Located only 50 miles from the hustle and bustle of Washington D.C., we are a world away.
Although the land here has been in our family for eight generations, we are a farm in transition. Over the years Georges Mill has been many things: a family farm, a riding stable, a home for rescued horses, a bed and breakfast, and now it is changing once again into a farmstead creamery.
The first ever Conference on the Science of Artisan cheese was held at the end of last month in the beautiful setting of North Cadbury Court in Somerset, also home to famed Montgomery’s cheddar.
This was a non-profit initiative, co-sponsored by Neal’s Yard Dairy and the Specialist Cheesemakers Association in the UK, with the concept being the idea that if the dialog between cheesemakers and scientists is expanded and enriched, both parties will benefit. The goal of the conference was to bring together scientists studying the basic principles upon which successful cheesemaking depends with practitioners at the artisan level.
In addition to scientists and cheesemakers, there was also broad participation from the industry and public health professionals, for whom a thorough understanding of the principles of raw milk cheese production are of great importance.
A few nights ago I finally sat down with my new box of cheese, glad as ever to have free, expirimental cheese
from "The Hill". I forced my lovely fiancee to professionally analyze these 2 contestants with me for some other
reactions. We kept it simple, cheese, knife, cutting board and water.
Lets get down to the real nitty gritty!
Appearance: Not a huge differance here except the size of the eyes and the fact that 109's rind looks more like
Mars than the more uniform 125. Both rinds have rich red and brown colors, very appropriate for the style.
Aromas: This is where it got good, we got buttery notes off of both but 109 was more complex. Notes included
cashew butter, wet hay and fondue. The rind of 125 did smell chemically but the paste was great.
Texture: The texture was pretty spot on ( based on the classics ) for the age. 125 came off
kind of mealy after a few chews. Both rinds were a nice break in texture and none too gritty.
The next round of samples from Jasper Hills arrived as summer was coming to an end. The To Do list gets a little longer this time of year, the kids are getting ready for college and scheduling calendar on the frig manages the comings and goings of the house hold like air traffic control. It was difficult to find some un-obligated time to spend with this cheese. While I would have like linger over this cheese with a little more romance and attention I had to settle for a hit and run cheese testing. I managed to save a little with the hope that I will be able to enjoy it with a nice wine or at a picnic.
It’s been a crazy week around here and trying to do our best to fit in a timely tasting was hit or miss – first with the cheese, then with the tasters.
Happily the stars aligned and it turned out to be an actual par-tay. With beer. Very, very interesting homebrew. And homegrown music... let’s just say we had fun with our cheese, thank you very much.
Somehow in my race to rip into the cheese I missed this tidbit of information – the tiny words Alpha Tolman on the label sealing the wrapping on the wedges. I’m assuming it’s a hat tip to another ruggedly unique Vermontian named Alpha Tolman.
While without context the name reminds me more of computers than artisan cheese, I’m not prepared to pass judgement yay or nay – I assume our man has a story that will bring it all home when the time is right for the big reveal.
Hello Cheese Enthusiasts!
I must say, I was slightly disappointed with the first shipment of cheese, but I told myself that the whole point of me getting free cheese was to help improve it, not to give useless critique.
Well, after reading Anne's post on the much anticipated new cheese, I was completely disheartened. I was hoping for a better cheese the second time around. So, I put the "failure" out of mind and went on with my daily life of tiring school, even more tiring homework, and brief, yet wonderful, sleep.
After one particularly grueling day, I came home and saw that beautiful little package in my refrigerator. I had to try. I could not leave it sitting there any longer!
I believe John adequately described the appearance of the two slices, so I'll elaborate on the texture, aroma, and flavor.
USE YOUR TONGUE!
That was the message that was first given by Valerie Henbest, cheese importer (or “Fromage Air”) for Smelly Cheese, in Adelaide, South Australia. Valerie is also a passionate cheese educator and eater, originally from Normandy, France and now an Aussie-Franco mix. With a great accent, I might add, and a life pulse that’s infectious.
Last week, I attended a Bubbles & Cheese Master Class taught by my friend Natalie Fryar, who makes Jansz Australia (Tasmanian sparkling wine) and Valerie Henbest at the Smelly Cheese headquarters in Adelaide. After a tour of the aging room, 20+ of us sat down to bubbles and cheese…but the first order of business was to think about what we were tasting, an exercise that never, ever gets old.
At the end of June, I spent the best part of a week at Neal's Yard Creamery in Herefordshire learning and making cheese, crème fraiche and yoghurts with them. In the past I’ve made lots of social visits to Herefordshire in general and Neal’s Yard Creamery in particular so it was great to be back and to catch up with Charlie, Grainne, Conan, Holly, Finn and Rags the dog.
After several delivery schedule changes we received the latest sample of the cheese tasting.
We had plans to be away for the weekend of the arrival of our latest sample so arranged for my lovely neighbor to receive the cheese box for me. She was happy to do so and brought it across to me upon my arrival back home. She had stored the cheese properly as I had asked and we had the first tasting the following day after letting it sit at room temperature for over an hour.
Appearance: The first thing we noticed was that the rind was not tacky as before and it appeared to be slightly thicker on both cheeses than the previous samples.
Both have the same coloration with -125 slightly firmer in texture.
The size seems to be appropriate for two people to sample and taste over several days to try and notice any suttle differences, but we really do not detect much difference between the two.
August 26, 2012
When we finally received the second shipment of cheese from Jasper Hill, we were a bit disapointed to discover they were not as generous as they’d been the first time. We are embarassed to admit that we didn’t notice the name “Alpha Tolman” on the stickers, so when asked “What do you think of the name?” we weren’t sure what to write. Thanks to Anne who was the first to blog about her Round 2 experience, we were informed of the name. As we wrote on the feedback form, we don’t really get from whence came this name—it doesn’t make us think of Vermont nor Alpine nor even cheese for that matter! So we’re not sure how successful it is as a name. [After looking at some of the other blog posts we understand it’s named after an obscure Vermonter with no clear connection to the cheese. Perhaps Beta Tolman would have been better for this round?]