as The Essex Green sang, isn't about farm life. I got to that yesterday. This post is all about the cheese (and yogurt, and cheese crisps).
Three of us went on the Washington County Cheese Tour together on Saturday, visiting 3-Corner Field Farm, Consider Bardwell Farm, and Sweet Spring Farm. It's hard not to leave with a lot of product when stopping by places on the tour; you often meet the cheesemaker, see the animals (maybe even pet them), and taste the cheeses--and they're good!
Now that I've tried all the products we came home with, I want to do a little review of them. There's so much good stuff to be had from these cheese farms; no matter your personal preferences when it comes to cheese, you'll definitely find something to like.
And much of the cheese can be purchased online through the farms' websites and at regional farmers markets, so you don't have to wait for the next Cheese Tour to try some.
3-Corner Field Farm (Shushan, NY)
A much talked-about cheese, thanks to its presence in shops in Manhattan and Boston, Frere Fumant is a raw sheep's milk cheese (like all those from 3-Corner Field) modeled on the traditional Idiazabal cheese of the Basque region of Spain. And like the Idiazabal, Frere Fumant has its own interesting story about how it gets its smokiness: the folks at 3-Corner Field send the cheese up to be smoked by Brother David of the nearby monks of New Skete.
Smoke is the most prominent and interesting flavor in Frere Fumant, but by no means is it an overwhelming smokiness. The cheese isn't aged for too long, so it's still fairly moist and some earthy, grassy tones come through via the milk. This creates a nice balance, and while we ate this cheese on its own, I could see it really adding some interesting character to a burger or sandwich.
Cheese Primer as "at once garlicky, truffly, mushroomy, and slightly salty, with an underlying flavor of nuts and wood."
Shushan Snow may not contain all those elements, but that's not exactly an indictment. This cheese is soft and creamy, and it does have some funky, mushroomy aspects--even more noticeable when eating the rind. Spread on crusty bread, this makes for a nice treat.
We also picked up a tub of the lavender and honey-flavored Brebis Blanche. Texturally it was similar to the regular version, but the lavender and honey added some interesting characteristics. The taste of lavender can put some people off, but it's pretty mild here and works well with the honey.
Sheep's Milk Yogurt
Consider Bardwell Farm (West Pawlet, VT)
like Unibroue's Trois Pistoles, but it would also go well with a heady red wine whose flavors can stand up for themselves.
Sweet Spring Farm (Argyle, NY)
Black Pepper Chevre
Here, the black pepper adds a nice touch. A little spicy, a little sweet, it creates a nice interplay with the goat's milk flavors. Creamy and spreadable, the Black Pepper Chevre is much more than your ordinary goat's milk cheese.
The cheeses listed above can be purchased through the farms' websites (linked above). The Cheese Traveler can surely hook you up with some, too; visit him at the Delmar Farmers Market.