A big welcome to the newest cheesemaker on our wall – Spoonwood Cabin Creamery! Spoonwood is a teeny-tiny 1,000 square foot “nano-creamery” in the town of Jacksonville, Vermont, 25 minutes west of Brattleboro – it is owned by Nancy Bergman and Kyle Frey. The name “Spoonwood” refers to the common name for the Mountain Laurel, which is prevalent in the region.
Nancy and Kyle, originally from New York City, discovered the Brattleboro area as a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life and their careers in the restaurant industry. Eventually, they purchased a home in Jacksonville, and began to establish themselves in the community. Nancy can’t recall the exact “eureka!” moment, but recognizing the access to great milk from nearby Sumner Farm, she began experimenting with cheesemaking, and taking courses at the University of Vermont’s Institute for Artisan Cheese.
Eventually, Nancy and Kyle began taking the cheeses into work. They figured if the cheeses had a positive response from their chefs , then they had a reason to continue. And, so they have continued! Four or so years ago they made the decision to make cheese full-time. Just before Hurricane Irene hit in 2011, they found a home for the creamery in a former restaurant, next to the town’s general store. After the storm, they gutted the building and began to construct their creamery.
Nancy now lives in Vermont full-time, and Kyle – manager and sommelier at Cafe Luxembourg – commutes to New York City. Spoonwood Cabin cheeses are found only at the Brattleboro Farmers’ Market and Co-op, and a handful of restaurants in New York City – among them Casellula, Craft and Cafe Luxembourg. We feel very lucky to work with Nancy and Kyle as their first retail partner.
Nancy tends to produce cheeses that she especially likes – soft, delicate and traditionally made. Primarily she works with cow milk from Sumner Farm – an organic farm with a herd of 25 Jersey cows just outside of town. When available, she also makes small batches of goat milk cheese.
St. Em is one of our favorites made by Nancy. The name of the cheese is an homage to the inspiration for the recipe, Saint Marcellin (the letter “M”), as well as to Malcolm, the owner of Sumner Farm, and also Emily, the fromagier at Casellula – who is also a big fan of this little cheese. St. Em is a lactic set cheese, with just a little rennet added, and a geotrichum yeast rind. Nancy developed this cheese during the winter, when no goat milk was available. Nancy wanted to make something from cow milk that was mild, milky, pretty and charming. She certainly accomplished that goal with St. Em! Young, tangy, with notes of fresh cream and butter – there is also a hint of mushroom from the cheese’s remarkably thin and delicate rind.
Enjoy St. Em warmed in the oven wrapped with a slice of speck, or on a cheese plate with cider jelly. At Casellula, St. Em is served baked atop rabbit ragù – hearty, early spring fare. Nancy and Kyle recommend enjoying St. Em with Champagne and hard cider. Eventually, they hope to open up the front of the creamery and convert it into a small shop that sells bread, wine and cheese – the perfect trifecta!
– St. Em is currently available at our South End location –
Sarah Spira is the domestic cheese buyer and a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen South End, Boston.