Why did a family owned and operated dairy farm ever get the notion to open their own creamery? Many have asked us that, and we assure you, it is not because we are short of work to do or other things to occupy our time. We decided to make cheese because we want to step back and give the next generation an opportunity to run the dairy and not shadow them. It has always been our vision to try new things and making cheese is our next adventure-- a back burner dream. Today we will tell you why we are getting into the cheese business, and give you a sneak peak at the kind of cheese we will produce at East Hill.
We decided to investigate cheesemaking about 3 years ago. We read that the New York Cheese Guild was hosting a cheesemaking workshop one Saturday, so we signed up and went. The folks hosting the event showed us some basics and let us try our hand at making a small batch of cheese. We picked their brains about getting started and learned how much local consumers were hungry for artisan cheese. We came home and made a few batches for fun.
Next, we joined the American Cheese Society and attended their annual conference in Raleigh, NC in 2012. Much to our delight, they have a lot of cheese tastings at their meetings, and we were exposed to at least 1500 different cheeses that week. There were so many categories of cheddars, goudas, mozzarellas, bries, etc., but we knew that we wanted to make a very unique cheese. While there we met cheese makers from across the US. An old friend once told us that if you wanted to be good at something you needed to "rub elbows with the best". Our connections with fellow members of the American Cheese Society have been very helpful in the past few years and we thank them for their encouragement.
In the fall of 2012 we took part in a basic cheesemaking course offered at Cornell University. While there we heard about a weekend "Cheese Boot Camp" offered by Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City. In the spring of 2013 we journeyed to New York City via Amtrak to attend one. We had the opportunity to learn about the history of particular cheeses, how to do cheese presentations and pairings. Murray's features an extensive variety of great cheese from around the world and we sampled at least 50 while there.
Each time we participated in a cheese event, we kept being drawn back to the Alpine style cheeses and we soon decided that would be the kind we wanted to produce. Our goal is to make a great tasting cheese right from the start and that is why we are taking our time doing research and extensive homework before we begin construction and production.
The next blog post will tell you more about the specific, very unique style of cheese that we will be making at East Hill Creamery.