Cheese Club Picks: April 2023

Cheese Club Picks: April 2023

Each month we send out dozens of boxes of cheese to our Cheese Club Members - it's our favorite time of the month. We showcase an exclusive selection of cheeses and pairings that aren't available in our shop, our Cheese Club Members get the "in" to the cheese world. If your interested in joining our Club, please visit our information page to learn more! 

We handpick each cheese to fit monthly themes with the intention to educate and satisfy! And of course, April is "Meet the Maker: Earth Conscious" to celebrate Earth Day! 

Because let's be real: irresponsible dairying can be terrible for the planet. Infinite growth on a finite planet is a paradox that flared long before the Club of Rome published “The Limits to Growth'' in 1971 – where basic factors such as agricultural production, industrial output, and pollution generation were outlined. These factors are more on our minds today than ever, and fortunately, more & more creameries across the country are committing to environmentally-friendly practices. While the dairy industry hasn’t necessarily always been green-focused, this new direction is a heartening example of how forward-driven the cheese industry is! We support industry leaders dedicated to the shift toward thoughtful dairy farming as a vehicle for good: adjusting animal’s diets, machines that convert methane into electricity, cutting down on processing, and using naturally temperature-controlled caves for aging cheese are excellent examples of progressive actions to positively affect climate change. As consumers, mindfully considering realistic quantities you & your guests are likely to consume, as well as properly storing and using leftovers, are also players in reducing waste and tightening resources. So, join us in the renewal of Spring, as we “Do Good, Eat Good” with these five pioneers of cheesemaking sustainability – by enjoying the fruits of their consciousness!  

Take a look into what cheeses our Club Members got in April:

 

1. Blueberry Vanilla Chevre from LaClare Farms, WI (Fresh, Goat)

To demystify, “chevre” is the French word for “goat.” Regardless of nationality, it generally indicates just what you are visualizing, and exactly what we have planned for your Spring spread: fluffy, creamy fresh goat cheese. And there’s few things quite as impactful to kick off your cheese-time as goat cheese that has been rolled in luscious blueberries! Named after Larry and Clara Hedrich, LaClare Farms was founded in 1978, when the couple turned a hobby farm into a goat milk operation. The Hedrich's 5 kids recall that every family vacation included visiting goat farms around the U.S. & Europe (just like our Antonelli’s!). Delicious, award-winning cheeses are made at LaClare with high quality milk from their farm, as well as other like-minded nearby farms, sharply reducing miles traveled – meaning far less CO2 emissions. LaClare combines sustainability and transparency with reverence for traditional cheesemaking craft, resulting in truly exceptional cheeses. Blueberry Vanilla Chevre starts with LaClare’s award-winning delicate and mild fresh goat cheese, slightly tangy in its sweetness, then rolled in blueberries for double the sweet and tart flavor. It is every bit as gorgeous as it is delicious!

 

2. Casatica di Bufala from Quattro Portoni, Bergamo, Italy (Bloomy-Rind, Water Buffalo)

Not only is the Italian town of Cologno al Serio encircled by a moat, the very creamery is named after its fortification: Quattro Portoni translates to “four gates.” Originally established in the 1970s, Brothers Bruno & Alfio signed the deed to the family's farm in 2000 – and boldly switched herds from typical cow exclusively to water buffalo. Water Buffalo milk cheese’s legacy in Italy goes back centuries; references to cheese products made from water buffalo milk appeared for the first time at the beginning of the twelfth century. As a “farmstead” cheese operation rooted in “circular economy” logistics, Quattro Portoni embraces sustainability by utilizing a zero-mile supply chain with low environmental impact. In other words, milk is sourced from their own head of water buffalo, and everything is made on site – allowing for focused quality control with a significant reduction of carbon emissions & waste. Casatica’s bloomy-rind evokes mushroom-y sensations, and the inner-paste is springy stracchino-style with a plump, custardy texture. Flavors are delicate and creamy, evocative of the richness of buffalo's milk; with a distinct earthiness and slight tang in the finish.

  

3. Mont St. Francis from Capriole Goat Cheese, IN (Semi-Soft, Goat)

Seeking a more sustainable lifestyle for her family, Judy Schad, husband Larry and their three small children drove up a muddy woodland drive on a gray winter day, approaching a southern Indiana farm in 1976. Surrounded by a weathered ramshackle barn and overgrown pastures, Larry spoke: "It feels like home.” (The children were horrified.) After finding her flow on the farm, Judy first considered a family cow, but was convinced to get a goat – and fell in love! Judy formed Capriole Goat Cheese, and her operation peaked at over 500 animals (although now they've cut back a bit and source most of their milk from a nearby dairy family). Eventually, farmland and woodlands all around the creamery were alarmingly being turned into subdivisions, so the Schads partnered with Sycamore Land Trust to create a conservation easement that ensured their farm would remain as conservation farmland in perpetuity, where today it abounds with wild flora & fauna. Named for a nearby monastery, Mont St. Francis is a hearty, earthy, beefy, fragrant cheese; semi-hard and rich, with a vibrant orange hue that makes it a stunner on your cheese board.

 

4. Invierno from Vermont Shepherd, VT (Firm, Sheep/Cow) 

Cheeses created by Vermont Shepherd radiate with excellence, reflecting the care and passion with which these producers tend their animals and land. After finding soulmates in one another, Yesenia Ielpi and John Major added five children, 250 dairy sheep, 2 Border Collies and 5. Maremma breed dogs. An industry pacesetter in sustainability, Vermont Shepherd has won two conservation awards in 2002 and 2006 for the quality of its farming work and improving the soils, pastures, and water resources.This cheese is a reflection of their respective heritages – Yesenia grew up milking cows on her dad’s farm in the Dominican Republic, while David grew up tending his dad’s sheep in Vermont. Together, they create a mixed-milk cheese called Invierno (or “winter” in Spanish). The sheep milk comes from David and Yesenia’s own sheep, raised among intensive rotational grazing and sustainable soil management; the cow milk comes from the Putney School Farm, a small dairy just down the road, which has a pronounced emphasis on healthy, regenerative farming. Invierno is a soft to semi-hard natural rind cheese, aged 5-6 months, with a rich tang of butter, chanterelle mushroom and damp earth.

 

5. Bay Blue by Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., CA (Blue, Cow)

In 2000, Italian-descended dairy farmer Bob Giacomini and his wife Dean launched Pt. Reyes Farmstead Creamery in Marin County, California. Their four daughters help manage the cheesemaking venture, creating highly-awarded cheeses – like Bay Blue! Fresh, raw milk from their herd of Holstein cows grazing lush, California pastures are at the heart of this cheese. Because the happiness of their cows depends on healthy diets and land stewardship, sustainability is placed above all else. The dairy utilizes methane to harvest renewable energy, water is conserved through innovative reuse and recycling programs, and they manage their nutrient-rich pastures with careful attention to erosion control. Also, “To ensure cow comfort we've recently installed state-of-the-art robotic technology in our two dairy parlors” – we’re not 100% sure what that looks like, but we are here for it! Inspired by the sheer natural beauty of their coastal climate and locale, Bay Blue is a rustic-style blue cheese with a natural rind, fudge-like texture, mild pungency; with notes of malty toasted grain and a sweet, salted caramel finish.

If you'd like to join our Cheese Club yourself or gift it to a loved one, click here. And make sure to check out our monthly videos as well to get a visual of everything you'll get! 

See you next month for May's box - A Taste of Place: The Mountains. 


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