Wonder friend Amy and I just returned from a weekend back at the farm, caring for the animals, making cheese and spending a day in beautiful Portland, Maine. We spent time with my good friends at High View Farm, who supply me with the sweetest, fresh raw milk you can get. I made a 10 pound wheel of Swiss, and some fresh cheve goat cheese with the Little Falls goat milk that we milked ourselves. Raw milk is difficult to come by in most States, but is so superior in nutritional value and taste it is worth it to try to find.
The annual Common Ground Fair is held in in Unity, Maine every September. It is hosted by MOFGA, the Maine Organic Farmers + Gardeners Association, which Little Falls Farm is certified by. The fair was great, a full throttle organic hippie blow-out. Crafters, the best farmers market you've ever seen, canoe builders, contra dancers, herbalists, bee keepers, compost toilet manufacturers, livestock, organic crop fields, a kids area, live music - if you ever have a change to go, take your shoes off and dive in - it's a 20,000 strong love fest with the good people of Maine. My favorite parts were the animals and class-A people watching.
The masses of fair goers
With the ladies of High View Farm, the lovely Darcy + Lisa
I love mule
This guy was straight out of Star Wars - I love merino sheep
I love ox
I love Scottish longhorn cattle
I love cows
Does this make my head look bulbous?
Old timey style contra dancing
Look at her dreads
They dig a big pit, light a fire in the bottom, lower a cast iron kettle of beans into it and cover it back up to cook. They were giving them away for free!
I visited my friend Zoe at her new job at the state of the art and ultra clandestine cheese aging caves at Jasper Hill in Greensboro, Vermont. Japser Hill are well known, high end cheese makers and have built the first aging cave of it's kind in the U.S. This place is enormous, literally like an underground airplane hanger built into the side of a hill. You can hardly find the place, it's on an unmarked road, doesn't come up on the GPS and there is no sign out front once you get there. Inside, you had better know somebody or you don't leave the tiny reception area. Zoe, who they stole away from her affineur job at Murray's Cheese in Manhattan, is their U.S. sales rep and is loving her new life in Vermont.
This is one of the seven caves there, and Zoe said it was the smallest.
Zoe and I walked out to a pasture to visit the pigs that are kept at Jasper Hill Farm. Outside of their area were boxes of discarded cheeses that they weren't able to sell for one reason or another. There were stacks of them, some looking perfectly beautiful (and edible!) They would be fed to the pigs, who eat a steady diet of whey and expensive cheese.
I spent two days with my cousin Emily and her fine new husband John who live in Montpelier. Emily and I had a fun day at the Ben + Jerry's ice cream factory tour. She is beautiful and funny and we had a great visit.
In back of the cheese making building is a community garden and apiary. I loved these bee hives, which were protected by a solar powered electric fence. There was a bountiful frame of hops growing that smelled amazing.
The first stop on my Fall '09 cheese tour was advanced cheese making classes at the Three Shepherds Farm in Warren, Vermont. We made more complicated cheeses like Camembert and classic Blue. My teacher Larry has a great cheese making facility. The class was me, three chefs and a crazy man who traveled from India named Bala. The cheese room is cold - here's me in my down vest and white stormtrooper cheese garb.
I met a lonely rabbit on a neighboring farm who wasn't getting much attention, so they asked if I wanted her. I took her back to Little Falls, got her a few goodies at the pet store and made her a house out of a beer box. She is extremely affectionate and cuddly, and so cute you can't stand it. I named her after the old Jamaican musician Bunny Lee.
There is a great restaurant in Portland called Flatbread (http://www.flatbreadcompany.com/). They have a huge wood burning oven that looks like a yurt, and it bakes up the best pizza I have ever had. The place is a big lofty space on the waterfront with handmade furniture and great locally brewed beer.
Goat cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan with green beans, beets and balsamic drizzle. Oh my God.
There is a really good classic rock radio station in Portland called WBLM. They call themselves "the rock n' roll blimp", which is hilarious. It's all I listen to here, and I confess openly to loving Foreigner, Heart and old Rod Stewart. Yes I do.
Making traditional cheddar cheese is complicated, but worth the extra time. My very favorite cheese in the world is a good cheddar. The wheel here was made with High View Farm raw milk and will be waxed and aged for 6 months or longer, if I can stand not eating it.