I just completed a three-day cheese intensive for aspiring cheese professionals, produced by The Cheese School of San Francisco. This was an incomparable learning experience designed to equip participants with the knowledge they need to procure, sell, care for and serve premium cheeses at a professional level.
We studied cheese classification, the responsibilities of a cheesemonger (a highly trained and skilled seller), tasting and pairing, sales and distribution, as well as the art of cheese making. I have never consumed so much delectable fromage in my life and was floating on a cheese-shaped cloud for three consecutive days.
On day two, we visited Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero, California. What an operation! I could envision myself living on this farm with its rustic barns, happy goats, and fresh (and slightly goaty) smelling green pastures. For as long as I can recall, I have loved the fragrance of goat dairy products, and certainly the taste. There’s nothing better than a shmear of fresh chevre on crostini. Harley Farm’s serves as the perfect example of a small dairy operation (with approximately 200 nanny goats), that produces outstanding and attractive goat cheese products.
On our tour, we learned the history of the farm, the dairy operation, and then went out to the pasture for a meet n’ greet with ‘the ladies’. What a friendly and social bunch of nanny goats! After greeting you, they would nibble gently on your coat corners or lovingly nuzzle your hips and elbows. I came away determined to build a small goat family of my own one day. At the very least, I can dream!
After touring the pasture and the milking operation, we went into the cheese production facility. We could see bags of cheese cloth filled with new cheese (milk was first pasteurized, then starter cultures or helpful bacteria was added) hanging over a large sink – the whey separating from the curds into large buckets below. The curds are then skillfully transformed into fresh chevre, goat cheese – some encased in edible flowers and herbs grown on the farm, feta, fromage blanc, not to mention goat’s milk fudge, and other delightful goat’s milk-based products.
I arrived home with my photos of the day and a goodie-bag of fromage blanc, feta, and fudge for my family. After painting the picture of my day, I showed them a slide show. Once they had learned a little about goat cheese production, I spread some of the delicious fromage blanc onto crackers, and topped with fig preserves. Caleb and Sadie were over the moon, gobbling up the goat cheese with wild abandon. I was thrilled to have shared my adventure with my family in some way, and I look forward to introducing them to ‘the ladies’ on a future family fieldtrip.