Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Idle time

My days have not been so idle. I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed. The holidays are here and I hosted Thanksgiving. I brined a beautiful bird and put out a very tasty spread. I picked up some a bunch of wild mushroom and made a great stuffing with them. No cheese, but we stuffed ourselves with plenty of other food. I tried to keep things healthy this year, so we had veggies and dip, olives, and Molinari Salami for pre-dinner nibbles. I actually managed to lose weight this week! It feels good to be in control during the holidays.

My big challenge is staring me in the face. I'm going to Vermont on Friday. I'll be taking a class on Spanish Cheesemaking Practices at the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese. It is a part of the University of Vermont. I've never been to Vermont, or Burlington and am looking forward to exploring the area. This class sounds exciting, too. We'll be going over the production of Spanish cheeses like idiazabal, blue cheeses, and Basque cheese. Oh boy!

It is snowing and cold in Vermont. I'll be leaving San Francisco, where the high is 60 today and I'll be whimpering about the high of 20. The low this weekend is supposed to be around 5! Oh dear God. I hope I have enough warm clothes. I hope the clear the roads well. I hate driving on icy and snowy road. I'm a California weather wimp! And I like to worry.

Here's a photo from the last time Jim and I touched snow. Near Lake Tahoe, Jan. 2005.

I'm taking a few extra days on either side of the class so I can find some of these fine Vermont Cheesemakers and see how they do things. I'm planning on visiting Mateo Kehler at Jasper Hill Farm so I can see his elaborate cheese cave and help him make cheese. He, along with his brother, wife and sister-in-law make some of my favorite domestic cheese. Constant Bliss and Bayley Hazen Blue. Raw milk and superb. Constant Bliss is a soft, bloomy rind, dome shaped cheese that oozes when you cut into it. Sometimes it smells like warm, buttered popcorn. It goes very well with California chardonnays. Mmmmm. Dee-lish! Bayley Hazen Blue is a well balanced blue with a texture like a Stilton. The sweet milky, salty flavor with a hint of campfire smoke. It is balanced by the moderate blue veins. It is my favorite blue to sell at Cowgirl. I think it really shows off the quality of the milk and the cheesemaker. I emailed Mateo in October. I'll be paying a visit to Jasper Hill Farm on Saturday. Up-and-at-em at 6:00 A.M.!!!

Other Vermont cheesemakers I'd like to see: The Majors of Patch Farm, producers of Vermont Shepherd Tomme. They make an aged sheep's milk cheese that could be mistaken for a Basque cheese. It has a roasted nutty flavor with hints of salty butterscotch. Orb Weaver: They have a stunning cave that I'd like to see. Hewn out of the earth and decorated with stone carvings. I like functional art.
Twig farm: They didn't have farming background and now they have goats and make cheese. They've been in business since 2005 and are producing some nice aged goat cheese. I think I might have some things in common with the folks at Twig. Michael Lee, the cheesemaker was a cheesemonger at a cheese shop in Boston.
There are lots of cheesemakers, I hope to meet a few of them while I'm in the area.

Pray for good driving conditions.

Oh! Did I mention I'm having dinner at the French Laundry tonight? No special occasion other than the fact we've always wanted to eat there and we've never been. I wonder what's on their cheese plate? I'll find out in a few hours. Our reservation is at 5:30.


Anonymous said...

we'd love to hear about your dinner at French Laundry and show you around Twig Farm if you have some time. We're about an hour south of Burlington.
Emily / Twig Farm

Sairbair said...

I'd love to stop by and see your place! I'm attempting to recap last night's dinner. I'll post it in a little bit.