Monday, September 14, 2009
Washington County Cheese Tour
To bookend my enjoyable sojourn last weekend to the Bennington Garlic and Herb Festival this weekend was all about the cheese. Enjoying a Sunday drive down the country roads of Washington County on a gorgeous late summer day with burnished wildflowers and spectacular mountain views was a perfect treat with my youngest. We picked out three farms to visit around Argyle, New York on this weekend's Washington County Cheese Tour. We packed up our patterned socks and a portable cooler and had a lovely several hours petting goats, cows and dogs and sampling the dairy epicurean delights.
The first stop on our cheesy tour was Sweet Spring Farm on Saunders Road. You travel down an over-canopied one-lane dirt road before entering the break in the woods that nestles this goat farm and cheese plant. My girl got a little nervous about our lack of gasoline as we were driving through this entrance tunnel, but it was a beautiful farm indeed and swarmed with Cheese Tourists.
The Farm only had samples of its soft cheeses for sampling and for sale, and most were sold out when we arrived. They also didn't take checks so we were skunked as far as buying any of their herbed and peppered chevres and lovely feta, but we did taste a microspoon of them before clambering down to lure some of their cats and goats out of the barn.
After refueling the Crispy Car and getting some cash for future cheese fun, we hit The Argyle Cheese Farmer located on Randle Farm (on the fabulously named Coot Hill Road). This was a popular stop as well, especially with a gaggle of Harley Riders, and we sampled some cow's milk cheeses, including Pumpkin Spice Quark, Cheese Curds and a tasty Caerphilly Cheese. Caerphilly is a Welsh hard cheese with a buttery taste that is often used melted in Welsh Rarebit.
My Dairy Princess enjoyed petting a newborn calf
while I was enamored of an ancient border collie, Tor, who kept bringing me wood chips in his mouth. I'd throw them and he'd just look at me in puzzlement and bring me another.
Completely worn out by our efforts, we hit the cheesemonger shed with a vengeance and got some of that luscious Caerphilly, some Chive and Dill cheese curds (my kids won't eat ANYthing laced with my homegrown dill, but loved this product), and a ball of fresh mozzarella to make a caprese salad for dinner.
We wrapped our cheese tour with a visit to Longview Farm, where we were pleased to see a couple of our friends, including my book loving young friend Orrie, who sold me on a luscious slab of High Rock Cheese, a nutty Gruyere-style cheese made from goat's milk. Alas, they were sold out of chevre when we arrived, so we will have to seek out their other cheeses at the local farmer's markets.
We had a funny and informative tour of the goat barn, milking parlor and cheesemaking operations, and then we bid adieu to various barnyard friends, including a chicken that crossed the road.
After picking up some local corn, we came home and made dinner for the rest of the family, featuring corn on the cob, caprese salad, sliced garden cukes and peppers and a big cheese-tasting plate with some GF crackers. A very satisfying meal and a fantastic day trip. The Washington County Cheese Tour is an annual event and we hope to come back and visit the other two farms on the itinerary next year. I will do so with some cash in pocket and a full tank in the car though.
I thought this post would be perfect to send over to Chez Loulou, who hosts a monthly La Fete du Fromage in which participants feature cheese and particularly droolworthy examples of the cheesemaker's art.