Sunday, April 26, 2009

There's Something in the Air... (Besides the Smell of Cheese Wafting from our Cooler...)

This week at Saxelby Cheesemongers, we're not going to talk about what we're up to at all. Nope. We're going to talk about all the good things that other folks are doing. It seems that at this moment in time, we have the distinct privilege of being part of a collective groundswell of action and interest in all things sustainable. There are countless millions of organizations and projects the world over that are rearranging and rethinking the way that local economies are built, and the way that power is leveraged. And it seems to me that when all else is said and done, it's really all about complexity. Embracing complexity and allowing it to flourish rather than prescribing a remedy from the detached top down or trying to separate and distill things that are meant to coexist in many-layered ways. The solutions to some of our most irksome problems usually aren't what you imagine they might be, and they don't come from the likely suspects. That's what makes them so great.

There are too many things going on out there to ever hope to keep track of, (though that dang interweb makes it tempting to try...) but I wanted to share with you just a few of my favorite discoveries of late.

The Promised Land (thepromisedland.org) is up there at the top of inspiring projects, and comes to us in the form of a radio show hosted by Majora Carter. One sleepy morning while trying to decide whether to drag my butt out of bed or hit the old snooze button I heard Ms. Carter on WNYC and promptly popped up for a cup of coffee and more info. One of her most compelling interviewees is a part of a group called Tree People based in California. An unlikely turn of events put an architect/planner/parent in touch with a local government official charged with revamping public schools. He took one look at the plans and identified asphalt as the linchpin toward change. Starting with the school district where his child was enrolled, Tree People began to rip up asphalt and plant trees, scoring a triple whammy that provides better air quality, better energy efficiency, and undoubtedly more beautiful school yards.

Food Democracy Now (fooddemocracynow.org) is an organization doing the extremely time consuming, extremely unglamorous work of watching the government, and the USDA in particular to make sure that we're not fed more bogus farm policy in this administration. Lord knows the halls of government are long, winding and convoluted as all get out. Thank goodness there are folks out there endeavoring to air the potential dirty laundry. Sign up for their newsletter to keep abreast of goings-on in the backstage areas of our national farm policy making!

Finally, Retrovore (retrovore.com) is a more local site that is doing the fabulous work of chronicling our very own agricultural champions. They've recorded bunches of interviews with Greenmarket farmers, have tips and tricks to help you get started growing your own food, and list tons of books and other helpful guides to the burgeoning arena of urban agriculture. They say it best when they say that Retrovore is dedicated to the notion that we can live well without living large.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Isn't it About Time You Had A Day A-Whey?



At long last, spring is in the air! Saxelby Cheesemongers is pleased to invite you to shake out all those wintry cobwebs (mental and otherwise) with our first Day A-Whey farm trip of the season! We'll be heading out to the East End of Long Island to pay a visit to Mecox Bay Dairy and Wolffer Estate Vineyard. See how farmstead cheese is made, sip some fine wine, and snack on a delicious picnic lunch as we cavort across the local foodscape. If weather permits, we'll also pay a visit to a local beach for a little sunshine and fresh salty air. Sit back, relax, and let us do the driving! All you have to bring is your appetite...

The first stop on our Day A-Whey will be Wolffer Estate Vineyard, one of Long Island's pioneer wineries. Sueellen Hoiles, resident oenophile, will lead us on a tour of the vineyard, explaining the wine making process from the vine to the bottle. After the tour, guests will be treated to a tasting of Wolffer's fabulous wines, which range from light and tangy whites to deep, gamey reds. The tasting will be accompanied by a lavish picnic lunch including raw milk cheeses from Mecox Bay Dairy and an array of other goodies from Sullivan St. Bakery bread to Greenmarket salads.

After lunch, the Day A-Whey continues with a stop at Mecox Bay Dairy, a fourth generation farm located in Bridgehampton. Cheese maker Art Ludlow will be there to greet us and show us around the farm, from his tiny herd of 15 milk cows to the pigs, chickens, bees, fruits and veggies that all join forces to make the farm tick. We'll see the cheese cave, the milk parlor, and perhaps even get a taste of raw milk, the finest dairy cocktail in town. Mecox Bay Dairy produces a fabulous variety of raw milk cheese, ranging from the buttery, gooey, camembert-esque to hearty robust cheeses studded with crystalline pockets of sweetness.

Last but not least, it weather permits, we'll pack off to the local beach (just a hop, skip, and a jump from the farm) for a little stroll or nap in the sunshine. We'll head on back to the city by 7:30 pm, well fed, well rested, and ready for summer!

Just in case you need a little inspiration, check out pictures from last year's trip...

For tickets ($110) and information visit:
www.saxelbycheese.com
Please note that ticket price includes transportation, picnic lunch, and all tasting/farm tour fees

Monday, April 13, 2009

From Flies to The Flea!

So, we go from last week's flies to this weekend's Flea! That's right. Saxelby Cheesemongers is joining the Brooklyn Flea with a grilled cheese and pickle sandwich that'll knock your ever-loving socks off.



This spring and summer at the Brooklyn Flea, Saxelby Cheesemongers is teaming up with Consider Bardwell Farm to solve the age-old question: is melted cheese the only thing better than cheese itself? We're pretty sure we know the answer to that one... but you should come by and weigh in on the debate for yourself! The molten cheesy goodness will be delivered in the form of the Saxelby Grilled Cheese Sandwich; a Tomcat Bakery focaccia, stuffed with Consider Bardwell Farm's Pawlet cheese and a McClures' spicy pickle, grilled to gooey perfection. At 5 bucks a pop, what's not to love??

Sharing the same Brooklyn Flea berth, Consider Bardwell Farm's mobile cheese-shop will sell its award-winning, handmade Vermont cheeses cut-to-order. The farm specializes in raw milk goat and cow's milk cheeses. Pawlet, a delectable aged cows' milk cheese, is a Saxelby favorite for cheese sandwiches of all persuasions, grilled or not. It is tangy and buttery, and has a bit of toasted hazelnut aroma packed in there somehow. The Vermont answer to Italian Fontina, but with more of that Yankee pluck we love so well.

The Brooklyn Flea kicks off this Saturday, April 18th at it's outdoor location at Bishop Loughlin Memorial Highschool, Lafayette Ave between Clermont and Vanderbilt. There'll be a grilled cheese waiting with your name on it!

Monday, April 06, 2009

'Till the Cows Come Home

O' Flies! True harbingers of spring!! Well, at least according to Vermonters...



Here in the city, we seem to be having an April showers moment, but up in Vermont, the most reliable barometric indicator of spring seems to be the flies. Just talk to any farmer, from the Champlain Valley to the Northeast Kingdom, they'll tell you; you can tell spring is in the air when the flies are out and about! Benoit and I spent much of last week cruising around the Green Mountain State visiting cheese makers and dodging said winged perpetrators, checking out the springtime goings-on at some of our favorite farms.

We bottle fed baby goats, ate some cheese, watched a kid or two be born, saw sugar houses a'boiling, bought some maple syrup, ate more cheese, went for long walks through farm country, toured the Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm, ate way too much cheese, and raided cellars as often as we were permitted to stock up the cave with... you guessed it! More cheese.

This Thursday, come in to Saxelby Cheesemongers and taste some of the dairy loot that we scored while traipsing around one of our favorite cheesy states. We've got a cache of winter cows' milk cheeses from Twig Farm that'll knock your socks off, from yeasty, bread-loaf-looking squidgy things to rich, tangy, butter-ific cheesecake tommes with earthy natural-rinds. We were lucky enough to get our hands on the very last Square cheeses of the season, a musky and goaty signature wheel from the does at Twig, as well as a couple of sharp mixed milk wheels. The Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm were rife with wondrous cheeses from their own herd of Ayrshire cows as well as cheeses from the likes of Ploughgate Creamery, whose Willoughby cheese is washed with a locally produced mead. The Von Trapp family (yes, those Von Trapps) is in the experimental phase of production of a lovely washed rind cows' milk cheese, whose pliant peanut-buttery paste begs to be slathered on freshly toasted bread.

fliesBe sure to check out our photo site later in the week for some shots from our travels. We're a little bit slow on the upload, as they say, but better late than never! Until next Monday, happy cheesing!