You don’t have to go far from Boston for some of the world’s best artisan cheese. Old world traditions are alive and well in Vermont.
Colleagues and I recently had the opportunity to visit cheesemakers at several farms in Vermont: Consider Bardwell, Blue Ledge and Twig Farm.
I first joined Formaggio Kitchen as an assistant to Julie, our charcutière. As she taught me to make the shop’s range of sausages, pâté, and other cured meats, she talked a lot about sourcing—what she buys from farms in Connecticut, the turnaround time needed for an order of rabbit from Vermont, the best uses for bellies from Massachusetts-raised Berkshire hogs, and the like.
Last year, I visited the Cellars at Jasper Hill and had the opportunity to participate in the Winnimere cheesemaking process. It was a very educational experience as there are some interesting new developments going on at Jasper Hill.
It’s a rare day on the cheese counter that we mongers don’t dip into our bucket of fresh mozzarella from the Mozzarella House at least a couple of times. This small operation in Everett supplies Formaggio Kitchen with most of its fresh cow’s milk mozzarella and burrata. My fellow cheesemonger Jess and I recently dropped in for a visit to their cheese room, and owner Giuseppe was kind enough to let us have a look around the facility, as well as share some background on their process.
On a recent trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to visit a co-op that makes Parmigiano Reggiano. It was a first for me – I have witnessed the cheesemaking process before and have even tried my hand at making chèvre but I have never before observed the making of a hard, aged cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano. A small group of farmers in the area bring milk to the co-operative each week and, starting at 5am every day, that milk begins a process that transforms it into a cheese so many of us know and love. Parmigiano Reggiano is a DOP product. In Italian, DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin).
Some weeks ago, I made an immensely informative and inspiring trip to Jasper Hill Farm and The Cellars at Jasper Hill in Greensboro, Vermont. The Jasper Hill enterprise was started by two brothers, Andy and Mateo Kehler. The determination that they have towards revolutionizing and solidifying the cheese-making industry in their state and in this country is unmatched in its political, scientific, and pastoral fervor.
Having seen their tommes progress from curds into molds and finally to the cave, we sat around the Burgat’s kitchen table, drank some wine, chatted and sampled a wheel of their cheese with some bread. A pretty perfect evening in my book.
Our destination was the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, a gathering of about 50 local cheesemakers, 30 breweries and wineries, and a host of other food artisans making everything from mustard to nougat. The event, in its second year, was held last Sunday at the breathtakingly lovely Shelburne Farms estate outside of Burlington, and this year we organized a bus to bring our customers to the festival — a first-of-its-kind trip for Formaggio Kitchen.