Monday, April 21, 2008

Earth Day

This Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers

Happy Earth Day Cheese Lovers!

Just in time for the big day, it seems that the city has turned all a-bloom and beautiful. The farmers' market is chock full of gorgeous greens and fresh asparagus, the trees are bursting out with tender buds, and the daffodils have taken over the flowerbeds. With all this growth underfoot, we've been bitten by the greenthumb bug... and want to share it with you!

Usually for me, Earth Day comes and goes without much fanfare, but this weekend I was treated to a tree planting party upstate that got me thinking, hey, this is way too easy and fun not to do more often! Well, planting things, that is. Acknowledging that trying to plant trees in the city might be a little tough, we've downsized our planting goals and asprirations to fit your New York City kitchen or windowsill.

As we look ahead to warmer weather and long summer dinner parties, we thought why not grow some accoutrements for your cheese?? Stop by the shop tomorrow and get a packet of basil seeds, compliments of your (cheese shop) truly. Because honestly, what is finer than slicing up a fresh, milky ball of mozzarella, a gushy ripe tomato, and trouncing some freshly cut basil on top? Proper tomatoes are still a way off, but we figure your basil will reach its leafiest, tastiest point just in time to make a stellar mid-summer caprese salad.

And don't forget! Our Day A-Whey to Mecox Bay Dairy and Wolffer Vineyard is right around the corner... there are just a few spots left, so if you've got a hankering for some cheese, wine, and good fresh air, jump on the bus!

Visit for more details and a link to purchase tickets.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Goat Milk Challenge

This Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers

I've got goat milk on my mind...

No, this is not a Ray Charles song, though it would be amazing to see that come to pass! It seems to be a theme these last few weeks, but goat milk is on my mind. Try as I may to focus my attentions elsewhere, I just can't seem to shake that lovely stuff from my consciousness.

'Tis the season to drink goat milk, as the animals move outdoors from their winter digs and begin to graze on freshly sprouted pasture. Saxelby Cheesemongers is lucky to have some super fresh, super sweet, organic goat milk from the Kortright Creek Creamery up in Delaware County that will make even the most staunchly anti-goat folks think twice about taking a sip or two.

Goat milk tends to get the reputation of being somewhat stinky, musky, and strange... a food embraced by back-to-the-land hippie farmers. However, good, fresh goat milk is sweet and mild and absolutely delicious. The main factor that influences the flavor of goat milk is the animals' feed. The goats at Kortright Creek Creamery graze on verdant pasture and are fed just a small amount of certified organic hay and grain in the winter months, ensuring that their milk will be chock full of vitamins, good fatty acids, and more nuanced flavors.

Also, good dairying practices by the farmers such as keeping the milking parlor in tip top shape, and making sure that the milk is bottled as soon after it leaves the goat as possible, ensure the goodness and sweet flavor of their milk. In the case of more industrial goat milk that lines supermarket shelves, chances are that the milk has been sitting in a refrigerated tank somewhere for just a little bit too long before making it into the milk bottle, compromising the flavor and quality of the final product.

With this in mind, the goats up at Kortright Creek and I implore you to give goat milk another try! You'll be singing its praises to the tune of a Ray Charles song before you know what hit you.

Monday, April 07, 2008

She's a Lazy Lady

This Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers
Who's a Lazy Lady?!

It's finally time for me to quit my winter whining and prepare the cheese cave for a veritable onslaught of fresh, tangy and incredible goat cheese! At Lazy Lady Farm, the goats are in full tilt, churning out plenty of fresh milk that Laini Fondiller, cheese maker and force to be reckoned with, is transforming into a menagerie of soft-ripened cheese. Stop by on Wednesday to snag a piece of her much coveted fromage!

Lazy Lady Farm is located way up in the great green yonder of Vermont in the little town of Westfield, pretty much within spitting distance of the Canadian border. The whimsical name most certainly does not apply to Laini, who's got more gumption and hard work ethic than pretty much anyone I've ever met. Her little ladies (the does that is) are the lazy ones, and lucky to boot, receiving more t.l.c and good goat lovin' than they know what to do with. But that's just one part of what makes her cheese so dang good.

Laini got her start ladling curd in Vermont over 15 years ago, when nobody but nobody was making goat cheese, and the large co-ops (Cabot and the like) dominated the Vermont cheese-scape. Laini had grown up in Indiana milking cows and loved the farm life, but reckoned there had to be a better, more stimulating way to make a living from milk. So she did what any bovine enthusiast would do (yeah right!) and jetted off to Corsica for a stint as a shepherdess and some-time cheese maker. It was in Corsica, which she claims was the best job she ever had, that she discovered the utter glory and cootie-rific wonder of cheese. Why cootie-rific, you ask? Well, the folks she was making cheese with up in the mountains did so in the no nonsense, laissez-mother nature-faire way that takes raw milk cheese to dazzling and barnyardy heights of flavor. When she returned home, she began to tweak the recipes she learned across the pond and came up with some little gems all her own.

Now, it's not quite as simple as that. No sir. Laini started off by bootstrapping and making 15 gallon batches of cheese on her stovetop, selling to enthusiastic local folks at the Montpelier farmers market, 'till she got so good, and so popular that the regulators (cue Star Wars Darth Vader theme here...) came to her and said she'd better get herself a proper cheese house right quick or else. Now, those inspectors were the same ones who oversaw behemoth cheese making operations like Cabot, and couldn't quite wrap their heads around why Laini would want do something as goofy as making goat cheese.

My guess is that after tasting her cheese they saw the light, but that still didn't make it any easier for her to set up shop. Lazy Lady Farm and a few other tiny pioneer cheese operations literally helped write the book for small cheese production in the state of Vermont. And thank goodness they did, because the farmstead cheese movement is flourishing there like nowhere else, and we all get to reap (and eat) the benefits.

So what are we anticipating this week from Lazy Lady Farm? Well, it's hard to be sure. Being an endlessly curious cheese maker, Laini invents a new cheese pretty much every week, taking us with her on an oh-so-delicious tour de chevre. Last year, just to name a few, we were treated to Tomme de Lay, Condisend, Marbarella, Trillium, Crumb Cake, La Roche, Demitasse, La Petite Tomme... (you get the idea) So, if you've got a hankering for something goaty, come on in and see what those Lazy Ladies have been up to over the winter. Mischief... of the first order!

Don't Forget! Saxelby Cheesemongers Day A-Whey Trip to Mecox Bay Dairy is Sunday, May 4th. Check out the website for more details!