Monday, July 28, 2008

Cheese Day! in Vermont

I took a Cheese course earlier this year for school, it was a two-credit class that met once a week for two months (or so). Every week, Ihsan Gurdal of Fromaggio Kitchen, would bring in 13 different cheeses of a particular theme (goat milk, cow's milk, washed-rind, natural rind, blue, etc) and we'd power through them all trying to learn something about the most peculiar foodstuffs there ever was.

In my life I've never eaten so much damned cheese. I wanted to die at the end of every class (ESPECIALLY at the end of washed-rind week.. UGH) and when you factor in the bread, jams, honeys, and other random condiments we'd eat with the cheese, we all ate roughly 2 POUNDS of cheese (and it's associated foods) every week. That we didn't all keel over and die by the end of week five is a testament to modern medicine and science.

Anyway at the end of the class (along with a long paper about things relating to cheese) we all went to visit a couple of cheese makers (and their goats) up in Vermont to check out how cheese is made and where the deliciousness comes from!

First stop was Twig Farm to meet the its owners Michael Lee and Emily Sunderman. Michael used to work for Ihsan's shop in Boston and, I guess, that's where he got the bug for cheese making (and worship). We all carpooled there in a variety of groups, so while we waited for the rest of the group to arrive we were free to wander around and watch the baby goats play:

They were very cute and friendly, they were climbing and jumping up on everyone who stepped into the pen. I stayed away partly because I'm anti-nature, but also because we had to stay as clean as possible (I figured at least) since we were going to head into the exceptionally clean and sterile cheese making conditions.

We took turns wandering around the farm and were able to watch Michael heat, cut and basically make the cheese up to the point where he poured it into the molds. Afterwards, we followed Emily down to the aging room where she showed us the cheeses in their various stages:

Before long, we had no excuse to not hang out with the goats...

Fun fact: Goats like to rub their heads against your butt... and it feels really good!

I can't even imagine why someone would choose this life. It's an exhausting effort with no guarantee on return, no holidays, sick days or time off. That doesn't even include the massive efforts and equiptment needed to legally produce cheese in the US. I don't know that I'd feel strongly enough about anything to give up a life of relative comfort for such a intensely different life.

My hats off to these intrepid folks, the cheese is great.