notes from the vat

Notes From The Vat

Oooooumammi is back, baby! This is the raw milk bloomy rind of your dreams!

Here is what we are featuring this week in the farm store and farmers markets.

Ooooooooooumammi!
Ooooumami has returned at long last, and we can’t wait to share these wheels with you. This batch is a love child between a vegetal brie and an earthy tomme – the mottled rind on this raw milk cheese is just the beginning of the beauty that is these wheels. Underneath that dappled bloomy rind lies a fudgy creamline and a dense center paste that are packed with flavor. Funky earthen flavors of mushrooms and root vegetables are balanced by notes of salted butter, savory meats, and even hints of anise near the finish. Raw milk.

Havilah
These raw milk Havilah wheels, made with summertime milk, boast layers and layers of flavors thanks to our diverse grassy pastures. This batch has a dense, almost cheddary texture, with aromas of fresh scallions and roasting meats. Notes of buttered potatoes and slow-cooked brisket make up the savory side, while the sweet side is peppered with hints of salted caramel and toasted nuts. This cheese packs a meal into each bite. Raw milk.

Rarebird
These young raw milk Rarebird wheels are particularly special: because all Rarebird is made with the milk of just one day’s milking, these little washed rind wheels being on the younger side is a perfect snapshot of exactly what was happening on the farm that day – the fresh grasses our cows were eating, the weather around us, and our dedicated cheesemaking processes, and how all of that influenced the flavors of our luscious fresh milk. These wheels have a soft, sweet cream aroma and a pudgy, palate-coating texture that just about melts in your mouth. The flavors of this batch are simple and clean – wonderful notes of salted butter and fresh baked bread, with a tiny bit of that lovely washed-rind funk near the creamline. At the finish, a tinge of sweetness brings notes of vanilla and almond riding atop subtle hints of grassiness. Raw milk.

Herdsman
This batch of extra-aged Herdsman baskets starts off with notes of cultured butter, lemony citrus, and fresh sea salt, finishing off with hints of toasted cashew, and a bit of sharpness, which can even be a bit reminiscent of clothbound cheddars at times. This batch is firm and flakey, very versatile – equally great for snacking or for cooking! Raw milk.

Toma
Toma is especially delicious right now. The wheels start out with a funky, almost boozy aroma, but when you bite into this dense and creamy cheese, you are greeted with flavors of fresh yeasty bread with salted butter, hints of sweetness, and undercurrents of grassy notes. The finish is bright and overall these wheels are wonderful! Raw milk.

Notes From the Vat

We had a helluva zany week on the farm. A hellion-howling wind ran amuck last Friday, downing trees and causing general mayhem. Half the farm was without power and we are grateful all our aging rooms and milking equipment are functioning. A score of cows escaped their paddock, and a few went off and gave birth! (See the montage of new calves below.)

The big snow left us with downed trees, fractured fences, and more power issues. And another brand new calf this morning!

This is the beginning of that magical time of year when calves start popping out, so stay tuned for more cute calf pictures weekly. (This year’s naming convention is Greek Mythology!)

And now, the Cheese!

Oooumami:  Every year we mess about with a few raw milk, high moisture cheeses, and on occasion they shine. This is the closest we’ve gotten to a raw milk Buttercup in the last two years. Aging these things can be a fickle drama, but we’ve pulled off a very tasty, unique raw milk cheese. The rind is rich garden of molds, 60% bloomy, 40 % other. The paste is just wee bit ripened to butter, the rest cream cheese-like. And the flavor! Think the rich mushroom n beef flavors of stroganoff, rich roasted/seared meat notes, and a little lemon acidity to offset it all. Good cheese! Raw milk

Sugarcube (or batch 328): an experimental mixed rind with a line of ash through the middle for all the drama. May it bring a sweet light to your darkest winter. These are awesome right now and should be delightful on your cheeseplates with jam and chutney. Pasteurized milk. (see picture below)

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. What you’ve got here is the unctuous butteriness of our standard Buttercup plus an intriguingly earthy, mushroomy, vegetal finish. Distinctly cave-y, mushroomy, like going spelunking in a cavern of earthy mushrooms with a sea of butter underneath you.

Bette Davis Eyes: Getting low on these guys but one batch left. A current favorite with cider or whiskey drinks, or drizzled with farm honey. Raw milk.

Herdsman:
Early November batches available now. Very creamy, stone-fruit and lactic aromas, classic tomme flavors, with notes of candied lemon and horseradish. Raw milk.

Havilah: August and Sept 2016 batches. This cheese just gets better and better with time. Current tasting notes include: butterscotch, broth, grass, caramelized onions, and of course, butter. Raw milk.

Toma: Early December wheels now available. Super rich winter milk makes Toma even more buttery and decadent. Slight paste break-down underneath the beautifully sunset-hued rind. Endlessly snackable, crowd pleasing, with a pleasant lemmony zip and nutty finish on the rind. Raw milk.

Rarebird: Limited availability.  Unctuously buttery… it literally melts in your mouth. AND THE FLAVOR…! Our tasting notes for this one include everything from beef stock and mushrms to shell fish and broccoli rabe. Every single bite is something different and the flavor is about as episodic. This is a beautifully complex batch. Made from a single milking. Raw milk.

Don’t forget to mark down March 30th on your calendars for this year’s Brewer’s Plate! For the uninitiated, Brewer’s Plate is a veritable cornucopia of the best suds n small plates from our regional brewers, chefs, farms and distilleries. A smorgasbord of delight that benefits our local food pioneers at Fair Food.

CHEESE!
Always grateful for your support.

Paul Lawler, Head Cheesemkaer

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


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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