Friday, July 27, 2012

Day 863 : Let's begin at the beginning and rewind to Spring Brook Farms

Let's rewind a week to 6am last Friday morning when three of us piled into the car to set out on our weekend to pouring rain and thundershowers -- not the ideal driving weather that's for sure. Four hours later we crossed over the border into Vermont and the sun started shining -- this was going to be a great weekend!

Stop number one of the weekend was at Spring Brook Farms in Reading, Vermont. Before we get to their cheeses, I'd like to start with their amazing program known as Farms for City Kids. So what is it?
It is a week long program geared towards anywhere between ten and twenty-five children between the ages of eight and twelve from urban centers all over the country. During their week on the farm, the children are immersed in farm life -- in both the classroom setting and in terms of hands-on experience in the dairy barn, gardens, greenhouse, and animal barn. Over the course of their week on the farm, these children have the opportunity to see where their food comes from and learn about how it is grown and developed -- it is a chance to connect with the land and all of its bounty. In the 19 years, Farms for City Kids has been around, it has changed countless numbers of lives -- old students have gone on to be vets, farmers, doctors and more specifically due to their experience. To learn more about Farms for City Kids, click here:

So apart for Farms for City Kids, Spring Brook Farms produces two amazing award winning cheeses -- Tarentaise and Reading. In 2008, Spring Brook built their own cheese parlour and aging room, complete with the French style copper vats.

Their copper vat

Their production room part one and part two below

The ring molds utilized for Tarentaise

Their aging cellar

Starting out only producing Tarentaise following in the footsteps of the local Putnam's of Thistle Hill Farm who developed the original "recipe" for the cheese, Spring Brook's Tarentaise production was off and running in 2008. Tarentaise is a raw Jersey cow milk washed rind, cooked curd aged cheese. Aged for anywhere between six months and two years, Tarentaise is a nutty, buttery, butterscotchy, caramelly, rustic and earthy Alpine style cheese that is one of my all time favorite cheeses. 

Nowadays both Thistle Hill and Spring Brook produce Tarentaise and although made off the same recipe, each cheese is slightly different due to the local terroir and of course each farm's cows' milk. 

Reading is a newer cheese to the market, having only been produced for the past two to two and a half years. Modeled on the semi-soft, pliable and melting superstar, Raclette, Reading is sweet and buttery with a nice farmsteady grassy rustic bent. Aged for at least three months, this is one of the best new cheeses coming out of Vermont in the past few years. 

From Monday to Saturday, the four full time employees and others make Tarentaise  every other day in twenty-four wheel batches and Reading a few times a week with anywhere between twenty-four and twenty-eight made at one time. Milking between forty and forty-two cows currently, they have been producing cheese year round for the past three years. They sure know what they are doing as both of their cheeses are award winning. 

One of their Jersey's, Ms. Betty Boop

Overall what a wonderful way to start the trip in Vermont with a small production farm that aspires to such big goals touching so many lives through their cheeses and their Farms for City Kids program. 

Stay tuned for the rest of the Vermont stops.

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