Welcome to our list of favorite dining destinations in New York's Hudson Valley and Adirondack regions. We visit restaurants, wineries, barbecues, and a smattering of off the beaten path culinary destinations like maple sugar shacks and fromageries. My friends and I have been dining out together weekly for over twenty years. The locations we write about are our favorite destinations. We are not claiming they are the best, just our favorites. The posts are not "reviews" in the classic sense. - we offer only our picks, not pans. We will leave the criticism to others. We are a happy blog. We much prefer a good bistro to "haute cuisine", especially if they also have a nice bar. We prefer a crock of cassoulet and a bottle of Beaujolais to just about anything else. If you enjoy simple home style rustic cooking with a decent (but not too expensive) bottle of wine, then pull up a chair and join us.

This Month's "Well Said!"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

Ferran Andria

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Nettle Meadow Artisanal Cheeses

Nettle Meadow Farm & Cheese Co.
484 South Johnsburg Road
Warrensburg, NY 12885
Farm Tours every Saturday
Store open 11 AM - 3 PM
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

It is hard to believe that it has only been eight years since Nettle Meadow's owners, Lorraine Lambiase and Sheila Flanagan, pulled up stakes in California, drove cross country, and started the business we now know as Nettle Meadow Farm and Cheese Company in Thurman.  They were hobbyist cheese makers with a dream, ambition, four - yes four -  goats, an epic work ethic, and I assume a wicked sense of humor.
Fast forward to 2012; the ladies have a growing herd now numbering three hundred seventy five goats, five dozen sheep, a national reputation as artisanal cheese makers, a contract with Whole Foods Market, a barn restoration carpenter on retainer, and I hope they still have their sense of humor.
We stopped in this weekend with some friends for Thurman's Farm Days, when the farm hosts an open house with music, barn tours, a fantastic buffet featuring dishes showcasing their selection of cheeses, and lots of photo ops with happy goats. Our friends Jeff and Lisa were there when we arrived, and they introduced us to their cousin Lorraine, who co-owns the operation with her partner Sheila.
Co-owner Lorraine Lambiase leads the tour. 
It was immediately apparent that this was not your typical farm. As we strolled around the fenced enclosures and barns, each of the animals came running to say hello. The animals included not just the goats and sheep, but numerous "rescue animals" including horses, donkeys, a turkey, llamas, and more cats than the SPCA. It seems the ladies are a soft touch. Older goats that are no longer milk producing are "retired" to a leisurely life in a separate pen with fellow senior farm citizens. Baby male goats (non milkers) - which on other farms I think become Jamaican Barbecue - are offered out for adoption.  Lorraine knew each and every animal by name, and the inhabitants were most definitely returning the love. It was something to see.

After the tour we were treated to a buffet of dishes that the staff had prepared, each showcasing one of the farm's signature cheeses. Nettle Meadow's Kunik triple creme is perhaps the most famous and the most award winning cheese they produce. It is a blend of Jersey cow and goat's milk - imagine a brie like cheese with twice the creaminess. Out on the buffet they had paired this cheese with slices of fresh pear, nestled on crisps of bacon. Fabulous. We also had an opportunity to try a new chevre that is still in development - a port wine and cherry goat cheese. I do hope that this cheese goes into production soon. It was the hit of the afternoon. Many of their other chevres are "fresh" goat cheeses, and are sold in small tubs flavored with a variety of organic and natural flavorings - garlic and olive oil, horseradish, Tellicherry pepper & lemon, and maple walnut are just a few. They are not aged cheeses and they are usually sold frozen, but we have found that the the tubs are just the right size to to thaw out for individual parties.
My personal favorite is "Three Sisters", a semi aged firm cheese, made - as the name suggests - from goat and sheep milk, and Jersey cow cream. This cheese shows up frequently on area restaurant menus, including barVino in North Creek.  It is a must try.          
Let' s play "King of the Hill"
You don't have to wait for the Saturday farm tours to buy some. The store is open for cheese sales Thursday through Monday from 11 AM till 3 PM.

If you do stop in please let other readers know about your visit in the comments section.

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Ideas? Recommendations? Email me at NorthCountryJoe@gmail.com

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