notes from the vat

News From the Vat

Dearest Quesophiles,
 
In light of current events, let me share with you this excellent 1988 Eagles ditty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlR6ujpB89k

Winter is the time for farm and creamery planning and reflection. So while we inch along at 32 gallons a day right now, we are anticipating upwards of 125 gallons a day in the summer. That’s a lot of Havilah’s for 2019/20 and more tommes, Rarebirds, and Buttercups for this season too!

Here’s a picture of some winter foliage from the farmyard.

But now, what is on our cheese board this week!

Trilby: Everyone’s favorite boozy little stinker. This is the last week or two on this batch, then they go away for a month. (In case you’ve forgotten, Trilby is a small format cheese washed in Dad’s Hat delicious Rye Whiskey). No leaves on them this time of year, sorry. But still big, bold, sweet, vegetal, boozy and complex. Pasteurized milk.                            

Sugarcube (or Batch 328): This is an experimental mixed rind cheese with a line of ash through the middle for all the drama. May it bring a sweet light to your darkest winter. Pasteurized milk.



Mooncakes! A wilder, limited version of our Buttercup Brie. It features a smorgasbord of penicillium mold strains in addition to the pure-white that we’re accustomed to. PLUS, we’ve added a dash of vegetable ash mixed with a delicate dusting of smoked paprika in the background. What you’ve got here is the unctuous butteriness of our standard Buttercup plus an intriguingly earthy, mushroomy, vegetal finish. Distinctly cave-y, mushroomy, it’s like going spelunking in a cavern with pleasing mushrooms and sea of butter underneath you. Mmmmm….sea of butter.  Pasteurized milk.

Buttercup Brie: Petite but powerful wheels from November with notes of fresh hay, butter cooked oyster mushrooms and beef – vintage gems! Quarters from our large Buttercups, beautifully rumpled, very luxe n creamy with notes of buttermilk n creme fraiche. Pasteurized milk.

Bette Davis Eyes
A new batch, decidedly far better and creamier than the last. Sean continues in heroic efforts to hone in on this lil number. Now for our 2018 resolution: wood shelves! Mad fudgy, gorgonzola-esque, mint garden and light mineral earthiness. 8-10# wheels Raw milk.

Herdsman
Available now are our early November batches. Very creamy, stone-fruit and lactic aromas, classic tomme flavors. Favorite comment in French accent last week at a Whole Foods event “this reminds me of tomme de savoie, I’ll take it!” Notes of candied lemon and horseradish. Raw milk.

Havilah
August and Sept 2016 batches. This cheese just gets better and better over the years. Current tasting notes include: butterscotch, broth, grass, caramelized onions, and of course: Butter. Raw milk.

 Toma
REALLY nice October batch – the rind is can’t miss plethora of roasted nut flavors. Slight paste break-down underneath the beautifully sunset hued rind. Endlessly snackable, crowd pleasing, meltable with a pleasant lemony zip and savory finish. Raw milk.

A brief plug for an awesome event we will be at, The Evening of Cheese at the Cheesemakers Resource Conference, 6 PM Tues Feb 13th. If you are a chef/buyer and want to taste the cheese of and talk to an array of Midatlantic regional cheesemakers all in one room, here is the perfect way to see what’s up! Come hungry. About an hour from Philly and right down the road from Stoudts brewing.
http://www.dairyheritage.com/evening-of-cheese.php

Always grateful for your support.

Paul Lawler, Head Cheesemaker

Notes From the Vat

Howdy! Picking up where we left off last week: Did you know that every wheel of cheese is an autonomously episodic ecosystem?

Basically, every wheel is like a microcosmic forest, jungle, or meadow…. Things move in and out; paving the way for new species to be able to grow and thrive. But forget the poetics of rinds for a minute and, thinking in a purely anthropocentric way: mold tastes good.

Mold, bacteria, and yeast are integrally responsible for creating the flavors of the various cheeses that we eat. (Not to mention any fermented food/beverage we consume.) PLUS, they’re aesthetically fascinating, never entirely predictable, and they never seem to repeat themselves. They’re our collaborators, we love them, and you should too. 

Anyway, enough workspeak. Give me the cheese.

And here you have it.  Speaking of mold, loads of ripe Mooncakes still on sale. Think mushrooms sauteed in butter and herbs.

Working towards the end of this batch of Trilby, which are also getting amazingly ripe. Think drinking rye on the rocks while eating a ham sandwich at the same time.

Get the Rarebird while you can: Think foie gras without the guilt.

And of course last but not least Bette Davis Eyes. We’ve got three different batches now ready for sale. They range in flavor from young, mild and creamy to bold, funky and peppery. Choose your own adventure.

Trilby: TRILBY! Everyone’s favorite boozy little stinker. (In case you’ve forgotten, Trilby is a small format cheese washed in Dad’s Hat delicious Rye Whiskey and then wrapped up like a precious present in apple brandy soaked fig leaves.) It’s flavor is big, bold, sweet, vegetal, boozy, and complex. Pasteurized milk.

Rarebird: Just a select few wheels left.  First of all, the paste is unctuously buttery… it literally melts in your mouth. AND THE FLAVOR…! Our tasting notes for this one include everything from beef stock and mushrooms to shellfish and broccoli rabe. Every single bite is something different. This is a beautifully complex batch. Raw milk.

Buttercup Brie: None this week, Sorry. Eat Mooncakes instead.

Mooncakes, Mooncakes, Mooncakes! A wilder, limited version of our Buttercup Brie, this bloomy features a smorgasbord of penicillium mold strains in addition to the pure-white that we’re accustomed to. PLUS, we’ve added a dash of vegetable ash mixed with a delicate dusting of smoked paprika in the background. What you’ve got here is the unctuous butteriness of our standard Buttercup plus an intriguingly earthy, mushroomy, vegetal finish. Distinctly cave-y, mushroomy, it’s like going spelunking in a cavern with pleasing mushrooms and sea of butter underneath you. Mmmmm….sea of butter.  Pasteurized milk.

Bette Davis Eyes
A new batch, decidedly better and creamier than the last. Sean continues in heroic efforts to hone in on this lil number. Now for our 2018 resolution: wood shelves! Mad fudgy, gorgonzola-esque, mint garden, and light mineral earthiness. Raw milk.

Herdsman
Available now are petit wheels made in late July. They’re dense and cheddary in texture, with that nutty grassy tang that everyone loves about Herdsman. A little taste of summer to brighten up the impending chill. Notes of candied lemon and horseradish. Raw milk. 

Havilah
This cheese just gets better and better over the years. Current tasting notes include: butterscotch, broth, grass, caramelized onions, and of course: butter. Raw milk.

Toma
As always, get it before it’s gone! Prototypical Toma wheels. Slight paste break-down underneath the beautifully sunset hued rind. Endlessly snackable, crowd pleasing, meltable with a pleasant lemony zip and savory finish. Raw milk.

As always, thank you for your business!

Paul Lawler, Head Cheesemaker

Notes From The Vat

Just back from a long sojourn to see my brother and his wife, plus an amazingly brilliant 11 year old nephew in London. SO MANY GREAT CHEESES! Got to meet up with Bronwen Percival, co-author of Reinventing the Wheel, and buyer at Neal’s Yard Dairy, a purveyor of fine (mostly) British cheeses. Reinventing the Wheel is really a must read for anyone who prizes the place of real cheese, cheese that gives meaning when eaten, in our world. It’s really made me rethink some of my opinions, and is the best non-instructional cheese book I’ve come across in 10 years.
https://www.amazon.com/Reinventing-Wheel-Microbes-California-Studies/dp/0520290151
One thing that struck me across the pond was acceptance and enthusiasm for a range of natural rinds, be they on bloomy rinds, hard cheeses, and in between. (See below.)
Note the raw milk farm camembert, bottom right, (its one wheel) full of creases, and lines. And the various British raw milk lactic cheeses, and the rind on a Cheshire.

My point being: embrace the mold folks. It’s not dangerous, and it many cases it is what makes the cheese. Feed your customers real, ripe farm cheese so they know what a live thing looks and tastes like. 

And now off my high horse: We have batches of BOTH Buttercup and Mooncakes that are delectably ripe right now. Crazy Pauly is putting MOONCAKES ON SALE!

Plus there is the newest iteration of Bette Davis Eyes, pleasantly outstanding and all for your delight! 

Trilby: TRILBY! Everyone’s favorite boozy little stinker. (In case you’ve forgotten, Trilby is a small format cheese washed in Dad’s Hat delicious Rye Whiskey and then wrapped up like a precious present in apple brandy soaked fig leaves.) It’s flavor is big, bold, sweet, vegetal, boozy and complex. Pasteurized

Rarebird: Just a select few wheels left.  First of all, the paste is unctuously buttery… it literally melts in your mouth. AND THE FLAVOR…! Our tasting notes for this one include everything from beef stock and mushrooms to shellfish and broccoli rabe. Every single bite is something different and the flavor is about as episodic as Star Wars. This is a beautifully complex batch that’ll go perfectly with everything. Raw Milk.

Buttercup Brie: The return of everyone’s favorite. Grassy, buttery, decadent! Mushroom butter and forest funk under the rind  Pasteurized.

Mooncakes, Mooncakes, Mooncakes! A wilder, limited version of our Buttercup Brie. It features a smorgasbord of penicillium mold strains in addition to the pure-white that we’re accustomed to. PLUS, we’ve added a dash of vegetable ash mixed with a delicate dusting of smoked paprika in the background. What you’ve got here is the unctuous butteriness of our standard Buttercup plus an intriguingly earthy, mushroomy, vegetal finish. Distinctly cave-y, mushroomy, it’s like going spelunking in a cavern with pleasing mushrooms and sea of butter underneath you. Mhmmmm….sea of butter. Pasteurized.

Bette Davis Eyes
A new batch, decidedly better, and creamier, than the last. Sean continues in heroic efforts to hone in on this lil number. Now for our 2018 resolution: wood shelves! Mad fudgy, gorgonzola-esque, mint garden and light mineral earthiness.  Raw Milk.

Herdsman
Available now in petit wheels made in late July. They’re dense and cheddary in texture, with that nutty, grassy tang that everyone loves about Herdsman. A little taste of summer to brighten up the impending chill. Notes of candied lemon and horseradish. Raw milk. 

Havilah
This cheese just gets better and better over the years. Current tasting notes include: butterscotch, broth, grass, caramelized onions, and of course, butter. Raw milk. 

Toma
As always, get it before it’s gone… Prototypical Toma wheels. Slight paste break-down underneath the beautifully sunset hued rind. Endlessly snackable, crowd pleasing, meltable with a pleasant lemony zip, and savory finish. Raw milk. 

HAPPY MONGERING! 
Always grateful for your support.

Paul

Notes from the Vat

We have a new friendly face in the makeroom! Meet intern extraordinaire, Christine Shaw. 
Here’s a bit of Q&A before we get down to business:

Tell us about yourself!  I was born and raised in central New Jersey, and my greatest loves are food, animals, and books of all kinds. I graduated from The Culinary Institute of America back in December, and now I’m thrilled to be exploring cheesework on such a beautiful farm!

What do you enjoy most about the farm or the cheesework so far?  I love being in such close proximity to so many animals. It’s wonderful being able to pet the cats on my walks to and from the creamery, feed the goats my vegetable scraps, and hear the cows mooing from my bedroom at night. It all feels very peaceful. As for the cheesework, I love affinage! It’s a great opportunity to sort of study each wheel and watch it develop as it ages.

If you could be any Cherry Grove animal, who would it be?  The guinea hen! She’s beautiful, and her only job is to wander around the farm. It sounds like a pretty good deal!

Favorite cheese?   That’s a tough question. There are so many cheeses that I love, but Brie has a special place in my heart.

Favorite Cherry Grove Cheese?  The Trilby! The flavors are unbelievable. Our farm’s terroir, the Dad’s Hat whiskey, and the fig leaves all come together and create these amazing apricot and hay notes, and I just love it.

Thanks for joining us, Christine. Speaking of Trilby, we have a gorgeous batch of Trilby this week.

This Week in CHEESE! CHEESE! CHEESE! 
Buttercup Brie
Tastes like it sounds, like pure cultured butter. With a slight hint of mushroom under the rind. Mini ½ lbs and quarter wedges. Pasteurized.

Havilah
Batches from early spring/summer 2016 with notes of malt, beef stew, mushroom, and toasted brioche. Nice balance of sweet and savory. Raw.

Toma
Limited availability, batches from early August. Beautiful pinkish orange-shaded wheels, nice and beefy, roasted peanut and cashew flavors. Perfect for melting or snacking. Raw.

Trilby
Limited availability, from early September. Beautiful pinkish orange shaded wheels, nice and beefy, buttermilk, stonefruits, grass and hay- and a lovely butter texture. An ideal fall dessert with Seckel or Asian Pears. Pastuerized.

Herdsman
A really nice batch from July milk. Barnyardy, notes of bread n butter, walnuts, and cultured cream. Raw.

Notes from the Vat

A new face can now be seen in our cheese caves! We’d like to welcome Malachy Egan, who will focus on affinage and wholesale sales with Paul. Malachy worked on the farm eons ago, and has worked with DiBruno Brothers most recently. And now he takes over Note From the Vat, the cheesemakers’ weekly news.

Greetings! 

As Paul mentioned last week, I’ll be taking charge of the wholesale side of things at Cherry Grove going forward. I was actually a cheese room assistant here many moons ago, so this is something of a homecoming for me. I’m looking forward to talking to you all over the coming weeks and months about the exciting stuff happening here in our little green slice of Lawrenceville. 

Even though production has shut down while we renovate our creamery (new floors!) that doesn’t mean our work has ceased. Still flipping, wrapping, cleaning to be done in the aging rooms. Also, tasting! We’ve got an exciting new tomme courtesy of cheese maker, Sean Fitzgerald. Based on a Corsican tomme recipe -using our high fat Jersey cows milk instead of sheeps milk- this little pudgy washed rind is a breath of fresh spring air. We’re calling it ‘Rarebird’ and it sports a custard-like texture in the paste and a vegetal snap towards the rind. Excited to share this limited selection with you! 

rarebird

We’ll be exhibiting at the Philly Farm & Food Fest on April 8th! It is one of the country’s biggest and best single-day food festivals and a great way to kick off the Spring season. Now in its 7th year, PF3 focuses on local farmers, artisans and regional experts in the agricultural and processing fields. Come see us at the VIP Industry Preview Hour or throughout the event. Admission is free for credentialed buyers! See more info here.
 
As always, we welcome your questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Thanks for your business and have a great weekend!
 
 
Cherry Grove Farm Cheese Availability – Week of 3/27

 
Please note: Buttercup Brie is still another few days away from readiness, so we’ll have to wait another week. In the meantime, still a bit of the Mooncakes and Raw Rodeo Brie to see us through. Full list below…
 
Rarebird
The thrush alone declares the immortal wealth and vigor that is in the forest… Whenever a man hears it he is young, and Nature is in her spring; whenever he hears it, it is a new world and a free country, and the gates of heaven are not shut against him.” – Henry David Thoreau 
Washed rind tomme. Pudding like texture with notes of hazelnut and wild asparagus.  ***LIMITED STOCK*** Raw.
 
Mooncakes Buttercup
Our classic brie but with a bit of wild blue/grey mold mingling on the fluffy white rind. The flavor is bright with notes of citrus peel. Pasteurized.
 
Raw Rodeo Brie
Lovely layered effect in the paste with a more acidic, lemon cake surrounded by a gooey mushroom-y exterior.  (Because this is raw milk you’ll find a multi-hued, mottled rind rather than the typical bone white of the typical buttercup). Raw.

 
Trilby
Beefy and pungent. Washed in Dad’s Hat Whiskey. Dense and creamy – fudgier texture than usual. Pasteurized. 
 
Herdsman
Surprisingly high moisture baskets from last September. Firmer, sharper full wheels from October. Raw.
 
Toma
Pretty sunset colors on the rind, this is an ideal batch! Grab it while you can. Raw. 
 
Havilah
Tastes range from caramelized onions and bone marrow to brown sugar and brioche. Batches from Summer 2015. Raw. 
 
Abruzze Jawn
Back for a limited time! 6 months old. Tastes like a cheesesteak – seriously. Raw. 
 

1902 - Family purchased farm

1910 - Leased land to dairy farmer

1987 - Hamill Brothers inherit farm

2002 - Started as a family business

2003 - Started a beef herd, laying hens, and pigs

2004 - Added sheep and attained organic certification of pasture land

2005 - Added dairy herd and began making fresh cheeses like mozzarella

2006 - Built aging caves and began making aged cheeses

2012 - Grid Magazine’s Cheese of the Month (Nov – Full Nettle Jack); Finalist at the Good Food Awards (Toma)

2013 - Won 2 blue ribbons from the American Cheese Society(for Buttercup Brie and Lawrenceville Jack Reserve); Added second cheesemaker

2014 - Broke ground on additional aging space and began process of getting AWA certification for our chickens
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