Monday, August 25, 2008

Get Your Goat On with Our Next Day A-Whey!

The first rustle of fall has begun to creep into the air, and our thoughts are turning farm-ward. Summer may be nearing its end, but don't despair! Saxelby Cheesemongers has big plans to get you out of the city and into the cheese with our next Day A-Whey trip to Catapano Dairy. Read on and see if you've got what it takes to get down with the goats!

A Day A-Whey to Catapano Goat Dairy
Sunday, September 21st
8:30 am to 7:30 pm
For tickets ($115) and info visit:
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/41742

The North Fork of Long Island, once known for being the stinkier of the two forks (they grew boatloads of cabbage and cauliflower there...) is now home to an astonishing array of agricultural enterprises. Goats, ducks, fruits, veggies, and vines all have a home on the North Fork. On our next Day A-Whey we'll try to cover just as many farm bases as possible, starting our day at Catapano Goat Dairy, relishing a picnic lunch and wine tasting at Corey Creek Vineyards, and stopping off at a local farmstand to collect some booty on our way back home. We couldn't think of a better way to ring in the fall!

Up till now, we haven't been able to go out and visit with goats on any of our Day A-Whey trips... a grievous barnyard omission in my opinion. Happily, the hour of the goat has arrived! Karen Catapano makes some of the most delicious fresh chevre that these mongers have ever tasted, and she'll be kind enough to share some of it with us on our foray into goat-dom. We'll spend the morning carousing around her farm, hobnobbing with the herd and learning what it takes to make delicious and tangy goat cheese.

Come lunchtime, we'll head to Corey Creek Vineyard, one of the North Fork's oldest wineries. Corey Creek is the sister vineyard to Bedell Cellars, which got its start in pretty modest digs (i.e. the back of a potato barn) in 1985. Corey Creek is home to a beautiful cacophony of vines that produce red, white, and rose wines of impeccable quality. Daytrippers will be treated to a guided tasting and picnic lunch featuring Karen Catapano's cheese and other fresh goodies culled from the Union Square Greenmarket.

Following the visit to the winery, we'll stop off at a local farmstand to load up with North Fork produce. Come late September, the harvest will still be in full swing, and we're sure to find heaps of delicious fruits, veggies, pumpkins and maybe even pies.

We think it's downright fitting to celebrate the end of summer with lots o' goat cheese and good times... hope you can join us!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Gone Farming

This Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers
Gone Farming!

Good Monday to you cheese people. I'll make this brief, cause I'm not too sure how long my internet connection will last, and the truth of the matter is, I'd rather be in the cheese room making cheese!

Yep, I'm over at Meadow Creek Dairy today, and I'm about to get my hands into a batch of Grayson. (If I can pull myself away from the breakfast spread that is... homemade bread, maple butter, scones, AND savory ricotta rolls. Roll me out of the cheese room and into the cheese room!) The milk is cultured and ready to go, and Helen Feete, cheese maker extraordinaire, is about to skim some of the cream off the milk to make for a not quite to so fatty fat cheese.

My travels this week will take me from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, up to the Finger Lakes, across the Adirondacks, and back down to NYC through the great green state of Vermont.

And even though I'm playing hooky from the cheese shop, we're still open and slinging cheese if all y'all get a craving.

Lots of pictures and tales of cheese and adventure to follow!

Till then, eat good cheese and be merry.

Monday, August 11, 2008

And the Sheep Rolls On...

So, last week I mentioned that August is a month chock full of new cheeses, and this week seems to be no exception. The folks up at Woodcock Farm, dairy mecca that it is, have sent a smattering of new soft sheep and mixed-milk cheeses for us to nibble and heap praise on. They're gooey and ripe and tasty as all get-out, so come on by the shop and have yourself a lovin' spoonful.

Summer Snow
(pasteurized sheeps' milk. Woodcock Farm, VT)

Vermonters, stalwart souls that they are, spend about 8 months out of the year covered in snow (Or at least slogging through it in some fashion or another). It only makes sense that come August, they might start to get a bit nostalgic and wish for a little of the white stuff, if only in their minds. Summer Snow is a runny puddle of sheeps' milk cheese that is more than happy to oblige those wintry leanings. Ripened for just a few weeks, Summer Snow is coated by downy white rind that conceals the rich, melty paste within. Unsure of what to do with that load of veggies you zealously hauled home from the market this week? Make yourself a simple salad, and plop a bit of Summer Snow down beside it. Snag a fresh, crusty piece of bread from somewheres, and voila! Dinner is served.

Humble Pie
(pasteurized sheep and cows' milk. Woodcock Farm, VT)

This cheese actually arrived on the doorstep of the shop bearing the moniker 'Something New.' (i.e. that's what was written on the invoice... such and such pounds of 'Something New') And though I delighted in that name, I was informed on a quick phone call to the farm that the cheese did in fact have a tentative name, and that Humble Pie was it. Now, I hope I haven't let the cat out of the bag and spoiled the creative process entirely, but for now, this is what we'll call it. Humble Pie, a common American-ism that seems to be especially appropriate in this day and age, acutally evolved from a thing called Umble Pie, which was a pastry filled with different kinds of offal. Yum. We've come a long way from Umble with this tangy, tasty, and yes, a tad bit beefy cheese. The rind is washed ever so slightly with a b-linens-laced* brine and takes on a tawny, orangey glow after just a few weeks in the cellar.


*First cheese footote ever! I am such a nerd. B-Linens is a kind of bacteria that colonizes the rind of certain cheeses, usually those whose rinds are washed with brine or booze. It usually packs a stinky punch and give the rind an orange or reddish color.

Until next week, fellow cheesers!

Monday, August 04, 2008

August in Cheese Country

It's August. Gulp. How in the heck did that happen? To us New Yorkers
August means the near desertion of the city as everyone leaps into their waning days of vacation, leaving the city oddly quiet and almost, kind of, strangely peaceful.

August may symbolize long and lazy days for us, but for all the cheese makers out there August is one of the zaniest months of the year. The grazing is good, the animals are in full production, and nobody gets a minute to rest as the farms begin to prepare for the winter. It is just about as old fashioned as it gets... those who can are making hay to store away for the winter, and filling their caves with cheeses to age and sustain them through the long cold months.

In tandem with all their cold weather preparation (as if they didn't have enough to do already...) the farms that we work with are making cheese like gangbusters, churning out lots of young and yummy cheese to be eaten right this very minute. The cheese-scape at this time of year is similar to what you see strolling through the farmers' market each week... utter abundance. Sheep, cow, goat, you name it! They're all here and ripe for the munching. August's the time to dig in and celebrate the sumptuous array of cheese proffered up by our local farms.

Here's a smattering of newbies we're exceptionally keen on at the moment. So if you're in the neighborhood, stop in and try a bite!

Sheep Sorrel
(pasteurized sheeps' milk. Ploughgate Creamery, VT)

This cheese could get by on its story alone... lucky it doesn't have to 'cause it's so dang tasty! Ploughgate Creamery was a nearly defunct sheep dairy in northern Vermont that was run for a number of years by a couple who made aged cheeses. However, as they neared retirement, the cheese making came to an end and the fate of the dairy hung in the balance. Enter two intrepid young girls: Princess and Marissa, who after cutting their teeth respectively at Jasper Hill Farm and Bonnieview Farm, negotiated with the owners and decided to use the dairy to make a new and delicious sheeps' milk cheese. Now the dairy is up and running again, and in their very first season the girls are expertly navigating the sea of curds, leaving a wake of delectable, soft and gooey cheese! Sheep Sorrel is a small disc of cheese whose white bloomy rind conceals a supple and thick interior that tastes of sheep, barn, and sweet summer pasture.

Manchester
(raw goats' milk. Consider Bardwell Farm, VT)

Oh Mr. Manchester... why are you so fine?! Sorry, it's early and I'm still a little punch drunk from my coffee. I love this cheese so much I could imagine myself crooning to it, lounge singer style over the din of a smoky cocktail-infested room. I won't do it, don't worry, but the picture is vivid in my mind. Manchester has just reached its seasonal tipping point and is ripe and ready to devour! We've been waiting for it all summer long, and now its here. Bold, goaty, and musky with a lovely salty streak running through it. The rind is washed with a salty brine, lending a slighly nutty, peanut shell-y flavor to the cheese.

Sweet Emotions
(pasteurized goats' milk and Jersey cream. Lazy Lady Farm, VT)

If a piece of this cheese ever crossed Steven Tyler's ample lips, he'd be proud. Sweet Emotions is just what you'd expect from a decadent triple creme... buttery, silky, and true to its name, sweet as fresh cream. A new cheese from the mad scientist's lab that is Lazy Lady Farm, Sweet Emotions is a fantastic specimen of fromage that celebrates the best dairy to be found in Westfield, Vermont. The goats' milk comes from the Lazy Ladies themselves, and the cream comes from Butterworks Farm, an organic local dairy that makes killer yogurt. You don't need an excuse to indulge in this rock anthem of butterfat. Just do it.