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.
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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

Always grateful for your support.


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