Can a taste of artisanal cheese transport you to the place where it was produced? What can you learn about a cheese maker from a style of cheese, the way the animals are tended or the types of ingredients used?
A while back, I had the chance to visit several Hudson Valley cheese makers and explore the idea of “terroir.” Loosely translated as "taste of the soil," the word refers to the “sense of place” one might taste in a wine produced in a distinct location, and the concept of terroir is becoming more prevalent in conversations about farmstead cheese. I found cheese makers more than willing to discuss the merits of cheese and terroir and passionate about their role in defining the character of small-batch cheese in the Hudson Valley.
Rory Chase and Peter Destler, the founders of The Amazing Real Live Food Co. in Pine Plains, New York founded their creamery on a commitment to serve delicious, restorative “vittles” for their friends and neighbors in the Hudson Valley. They source their milk from 50 registered Holstein cows that graze in rolling pastures reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell illustration.
Rory and Peter are clearly dedicated to their mission and their French-style artisanal and probiotic cheeses delight the senses.
Rory becomes visibly animated as he inhales the “mushroomy” aromas in their aging room, and offers me delicious samples of fresh and aged cheeses.
Joyce Henion – owner of Acorn Hill Farm in Walker Valley, New York – produces fresh, clean-tasting goat cheeses in the former garage of her split-level home, which she converted into a fully equipped creamery.
Joyce’s fascination with Nubian goats inspired her vocation as a cheese maker.
Acorn Hill Farm is a very different locale. Joyce’s goats browse a wooded area of rocky terrain. She manages the herd organically and knows each goat by name.
If you taste the cheese of Rory and Peter or Joyce, you will savor two very different stories, but both are characteristic of the vital cheese making community in the Hudson Valley. Read more about cheese terroir in my story “A Sense of Place” published in the Spring 2012 “Bread and Cheese” issue of the magazine, Edible Hudson Valley.
©2012 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved