Cheese–European style

​“Life is great, but cheese makes it better,” as author Avery Aames said. Well, we couldn’t agree more, and over the past few weeks we have tried to bring you into our world of cheese by introducing you to the lovely ladies of East Hill Creamery (our cows!) well as the people who are helping to make our cheese-making dream come to life. Today, we are taking a different twist on the blog, and we are just going to talk about cheese….halfway around the world.

Homemade wine and fresh cheeses from an Alpine Italian farm
Homemade wine and fresh cheeses from an Alpine Italian farm.  Photo above is dairy cows in the Italian Alps.

​As you may know (and if you don’t, you should read the blog about him!), we hired a cheesemaker from France. He is from the Alpine region of France, which is perfect because we will be making an Alpine style cheese. As you also may know, our blogger and social media girl, Cassi Jo, just went on a trip to Europe and experienced quite a ‘cheese journey’ while over there. We bring this up because, quite frankly, the people of Europe know how to eat cheese and eat it far more than we as Americans do. The Greeks eat 68 pounds of cheese each per year, and the French are at 53 pounds! Germans and Dutch eat 46 pounds each. We Americans are only at 31 pounds (Information based on 2009 statistics by Eurostat, the Canadian Dairy Information Centre (CDIC) and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.). Do you see a gap here? We sure do!

Variety of cheeses at market  [Syracuse, Sicily]
Variety of cheeses at market
[Syracuse, Sicily]
Unfortunately, too many Americans think of cheese as Velveeta, Kraft singles, or a box of mac ‘n cheese. We are not discrediting those foods, but we want you to see cheese as we see it, and as Cassi saw it on her recent trip to Europe. There, cheese was served with every meal, and many different varieties and styles.

Cheeses and homemade ravoili in a restaurant in Rome
Cheeses and homemade ravoili in a restaurant in Rome

She stayed at a farm in the northern Alpine region of Italy, where she was served three different styles of homemade cheeses with homemade wine as part of her supper. The cheese was made from cow’s and sheep’s milk and there was some fresh, barely made stuff, as well as some harder, aged kinds (see photo). In the markets of Sicily, fresh ricotta was sold EVERYWHERE, and in Greece, feta was king. Feta with salads, fried feta, baked feta, you get the idea. Check out all the photos in this blog with the different cheeses from around Italy and Greece. There is a cheese to go with every fish, meat, wine, breakfast, etc.

Fresh feta on top of tomatoes and bread, topped with olives and olive oil  [Santorini, Cyclades]
Fresh feta on top of tomatoes and bread, topped with olives and olive oil
[Santorini, Cyclades]
​It is wonderful to see so much cheese sold at the markets by the people who made it, or being able to eat it at a farm restaurant (Agriturismos are popular hotel/restaurant destinations in Italy) where you can visit the animals outside who produced the milk to make the cheese. We realize that so much of our population is urban and disconnected from agriculture, and that’s why we are trying to bring the experience to you. We may not have an Agriturismo for you to come stay at, and we don’t sell fresh ricotta at the local market, but we are bringing our farm to you and giving you cheese as we believe it should be. Cheese to be enjoyed with your meal, or your glass of wine, and to be eaten often as part of a healthy, diverse, and traditional diet. You don’ t have to go to Italy or Greece to get great cheese! We are happy to have you as part of our journey, and we are so excited for you to taste some of our great cheese as soon as the Creamery is up and running.

Fried feta  [Naxos, Cyclades]
Fried feta
[Naxos, Cyclades]
​We have a question for you this week: what is the best cheese you have ever eaten? Please tell us—we really want to hear from you! Thanks for reading 🙂