Thursday, October 22, 2009
Virginia Farmstead Cheese - Meadow Creek Dairy
There’s nothing quite like a farmstead cheese made close to home. They are handcrafted gems, standing in the spotlight of the foodie’s delight, in a world filled with processed. They use the milk produced on their own farms, and the unique character of the herd’s milk comes out in the cheese. Just say yum. Here’s a little blurb about one of my favorites, right here in Virginia:
Meadow Creek Dairy (from their website)
“Meadow Creek Dairy is a family farm in the mountains of southwest Virginia. At an elevation of 2800ft, the combination of pure water, clean air and deep soils produce an ideal environment for growing diverse, mineral-rich pastures.
Since 1980, farming has been our craft. We have worked closely with our Jersey herd to give them the best care, develop the genetics best adapted to our farm, and in the process produce the highest quality milk. Now we take our craft to its next level, providing you with a full flavored, healthy, ecologically friendly cheese.
We practice sustainable farming methods, managing the land and cattle for health rather than high production. Our primary tool to achieve this goal is intensive grazing management. This involves giving our cattle fresh grass every day; they are not allowed back on the pasture already grazed, allowing the grass to re-grow and preventing overgrazing. We use no herbicides or pesticides on our land. Our only crop is grass. We are therefore able to provide excellent nutrition for the dairy herd while improving the health and fertility of our land.
Our milking season begins in late March when all calves are born coinciding with the grass growth. The cattle are never confined, but instead are born and raised on pasture. The cows graze a diverse mixture of perennial grasses and legumes supplemented with some grains, salt and Norwegian kelp. In the fall, when the grass growth wanes, the cows begin to wind down their milk production. Christmas Eve is the last day of the milking season and the beginning of a two month rest for the cows and our family. We avoid routine use of hormones or antibiotics by constantly monitoring our herd's health. We work toward developing and selecting cows with a healthy immune system.
The taste of our cheeses reflects the diverse pastures and soils of our region. We have created a variety of unique cheeses to showcase our herd's quality milk. We use only fresh, unpasteurized milk from our own Grade A dairy. Starter culture and rennet are added to form a curd. The curd is cut and manipulated according to the variety, then moves on to the pressing table. Our craft continues in the aging rooms where our cheeses are hand tended. We carefully pick cheese for sale only when flavor has reached its peak.”
In stock now at William Street: Meadow Creek Dairy’s Appalachian
“Supple, straw color paste and a white mould rind with glimpses of pink showing through. The flavor is mild and buttery with a spicy finish and a hint of mushroom.”
Try pairing this rich, gloriously delicious semi-hard cheese with a Pinot Grigio. Lovely on its own, but use a sliced baguette and make yourself an amazing grilled cheese sandwich, gourmet-style.