Toma

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

Notes From the Vat

Beefcakes!

Rarebird on Mme. Fromage’s table

In case you missed the big news amid all of the Superbowl elation, our very own Rarebird is in the spotlight!

The wonderfully infamous and always delightful Madame Fromage featured Rarebird last week as part of her #AmericanCheeseProject! I’ll let her eloquence and thoughtfulness speak for itself in the snippet below. 

We’re honored and thrilled to be featured and we humbly thank Madame Fromage for the kind words. Anyone who describes cheese as “beefcakes” is a friend of ours, indeed. If you haven’t already, check out Madame Fromage’s blog, instagram, and numerous book publications. They’re fun, well written and informative.

With that said: now is probably your last chance to get somma dis devilishly delicious funk-bomb batch of Rarebird for a couple weeks. Check the farm store!

What else is on hand?

Trilby: Everyone’s favorite boozy little stinker. The last of this small format cheese washed in Dad’s Hat delicious Rye Whiskey is in the store, then we have to wait a few months for the next batch. Big, bold, boozy, and complex. Pasteurized milk.

Sugarcube (or batch 328): This experimental mixed rind with a line of ash through the middle is still available in limited amounts.

Mooncakes! A super-ripe version of our Butercup Brie with an added dash of vegetable ash mixed with a delicate dusting of smoked paprika in the background. All the unctuous butteriness of our standard Buttercup with an intriguingly earthy, mushroomy, vegetal finish. Distinctly cave-y, mushroomy.  Pasteurized milk.

Buttercup Brie: Some powerful wheels from November are in the store, with notes of fresh hay, butter cooked oyster mushrooms and beef. Beautifully rumpled, very luxe and creamy with notes of buttermilk and creme fraiche. Pasteurized milk.
 
Bette Davis Eyes
A limited amount of this mad fudgy, gorgonzola-esque blue, with mint garden and light mineral earthiness. Get it while it lasts. Raw milk.

Herdsman
Very creamy, stone-fruit and lactic aromas, classic tomme flavors in what remians of this November batch. Notes of candied lemon and horseradish that remind some of tomme de savoie. Raw milk.

Havilah
August and Sept 2016 batches. Our rich and velvetty Havilah ages like a fine wine. Current tasting notes include: butterscotch, broth, grass, caramelized onions, and of course, butter. Raw milk.

A sunset-hued rind

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

Don’t forget tomorrow’s Evening of Cheese at the Cheesemakers Resource Conference, at 6 PM (Tuesday, Feb 13th). Chef/Buyers: If you want to taste the cheese and talk to an array of Midatlantic regional cheesemakers all in one room, this is the perfect event! 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

 

 

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

A Fair Day at Cherry Grove Farm

Last week our friends at Fair Food Farmstand dropped by! We had a fantastic time giving them a behind-the-scenes look at how we operate on a daily basis, and we even got our hands a little dirty in the process! Fair Food Farmstand carries our farmstead cheeses and a plethora of other farm-sourced goodies at their stand in the Philadelphia Reading Terminal Market. Next time you are in the city, be sure to check them out! Here is what they had to say about their visit to Cherry Grove:

 

Last Tuesday, the boys of Fair Food—myself, Noel and Nate—took a trip to Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville, NJ. We met some very fine folks including Stacey, our lovely tour guide; Sam, the head cheese maker; and Malachy, our former Farmstand cheese intern. Cherry Grove is a picturesque farm of 400 acres, 250 of which are certified organic pasture for their 115 Jersey and Short Horn cows. From these cows comes the sweet milk that produces some of our favorite cheeses at the Farmstand—the Havilah and Toma Primavera being two of our stand-by’s. 

 

Noel, Craig & Nate gear up for the cheesemaking room.

 

Our first leg of the tour was the cheese room and there was action! Sam was scooping, molding and pressing some fresh Herdsman. Malachy was hand-molding some beautiful bloomy rinds. Giant wheels of Havilah were soaking in their salt brine. We checked out their three caves: one for the bloomy rinds (that buttery Buttercup Brie), one for the Havilah, Herdsman and Jacks and a single cave just for the Toma Primavera.  

 

Cheese Curds

 

Next we took a tour of the farm and pastures. Cherry Grove puts a lot of effort into being a sustainable system. We met “the spreader” which is a nifty conveyor belt that recycles the cow manure into fertilizer. We saw “the sucker” which takes the excess whey from the cheese room and pipes it to their 100% whey-fed Berkshire pigs. Their wood fire heat exchanger provides heat and hot water for all of the cheese making and the farm store. The wood comes from local tree surgeons who deliver the wood that they would normally have to pay to landfill—pretty cool if you ask me! 

 

Cherry Grove’s Pastures

 

Lastly we got to spend some time with the pasture-raised chickens. There is no experience quite like harvesting eggs with 1,000 clucking and pecking chickens at your feet on a 95-degree summer day. We had a blast, to say the least! Living in the city, it’s incredibly refreshing to spend time on a farm—so much that we worked for fun! 

 

Aging Wheels of Toma Primavera

 

We wrapped up our tour with a cheese tasting and we were fortunate to come home with treats: our harvested eggs; delicious pork products for ourselves; and a couple of wheels of Toma Primavera (the first batches of the season!) for your enjoyment at the Farmstand.

The folks at Cherry Grove were so knowledgeable, and fun—I am already looking forward to our next visit! In the meantime we’ll keep on enjoying their delicious cheeses and organic veggies down at the stand!

-Craig

 

 

You’ll Love the Aroma of Our Toma!

 

It’s almost time for the return of our most popular cheese! In anticipation of a high demand thanks to our finalist status in the Good Food Awards, our cheesemakers got a jump-start on their schedule and started making Toma earlier this year! It will be cut next week and available in our store and at markets starting Thursday, July 5th.

 

 

 

Even though the recipe for Toma is always the same, seasonality adds for some subtle yet notable variations in flavor, texture, and appearance. These differences occur due to changes in environmental conditions and the diet of our cows. Early spring Toma is made when temperatures are cooler, the humidity is lower, and when the cows are eating hay rather than grass. We feed hay from our own pastures in the winter when the ground is bare and in early spring to supplement the lack of nutrients in early season grasses. Our pastures have been organically certified for 8 years, which means our hay is also organic!

 

 

The first subtle difference you will notice is that its rind is less defined. This is due to drier conditions in the caves and a shorter aging period. Another difference in our Toma made with “hay milk” is that it is a light creamy white paste instead of the deeper yellow Toma of last summer. That is because the beta-carotene found in fresh grass, which normally gives cheese a yellow or orange hue, is absent in hay. Cows are the only animals that don’t digest beta-carotene, so their raw grass-fed milks and cheeses are the only dairy products with the benefit of this added nutrient!

 

 

Using hay milk will also bring about some notable differences in the flavor and texture of our Toma. Early spring Toma has an earthy and lipolic flavor, similar to an aged provolone, and a semi-creamy texture. As the seasons progress, the cows move from hay to grass, and the cheese spends more time aging in our caves, the flavor profile of Toma will become more pungent and tangy, the rind will become more developed, and the texture will only increase in creaminess.

 

 Pairing Ideas:

 

Toma is wonderful paired with Sauvignon Blanc, dry to semi-dry Riesling, Pinot Noir, or Merlot.  It is also fantastic on crackers with your favorite savory marmalade or chutney. For example, the Apricot Jalapeño Jelly we just added to our shelves from Muirhead would be a match made in heaven! Seasonally, our Toma also goes well with honey, bacon, and caramelized onions.


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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