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Monthly Club – June 2017

Every month we select three cheeses and one meat that are making us particularly happy and we package them up as part of our C+P Cheese Club.  Here are this month’s selections of what we think are especially tasty in the case right now.

Vermont Shepherd Verano
Raw Sheep’s Milk, Vermont

Vermont Shepherd Sheep Dairy

Vermont Shepherd owner David Major giving us a tour of his sheep dairy.

If you’ve been in the store, you’ve probably heard us say that we think Vermont is ground zero in the American artisan cheesemaking movement.  We are excited to bring you two Vermont cheeses this month. First up, Verano from Vermont Shepherd.  We think Vermont Shepherd is prime example of what makes Vermont cheese so special. In fact, it’s the farm that inspired us to start our sheep dairy back in 2005.  They are the oldest sheep dairy in Vermont and in the U.S. for that matter.

We spent a day on the farm with owner David Major and his wife Yesenia before we opened the store. It reminded us how we ended up making cheese a central point of our lives.  David has deep roots in Vermont farming. His farm, with its 250 dairy sheep, is right next door to his parent’s farm. He’s also got three generations of shepherds, ranging in age from 7 to 53, taking care of his animals.

Not everyone knows that cheese is seasonal, but David embraces that reality.  He only makes two cheeses. Verano is made with spring/summer sheep’s milk when the pastures are abundant with wild herbs and grasses.  Verano is cave aged on wooden boards.  The wheels soak in brine for two days and then are brushed and turned daily.

Pairings:  Invierno is a versatile cheese.  It’s delicious with cider, a Pinot Noir, a medium-bodied red or a nutty brown ale.

Parish Hill Creamery Reverie
Raw Cow’s Milk, Vermont

Parish Hill Pigs

Steve feeding the Parish Hill pigs whey from the day’s cheesemaking.

We have a soft spot in our hearts for Parish Hill Creamery. Not only is their cheese fantastic, but the people behind it are genuinely lovely. Also, Reverie was the first wholesale cheeses we ever bought.

Sisters Rachel Fritz Schaal and Alex Schaal make the cheese, and we were fortunate to spend a day with them doing just that in the summer of 2015. (That’s Steve feeding their pigs the whey from cheesemaking that day.)  The man behind it all is Rachel’s husband Peter Dixon.  Peter is the godfather of Vermont cheese, having taught many of the makers working today.

As testament to the tight knit Vermont cheesemaking community, Parish Hill’s aging cave is actually one that Vermont Shepherd originally built for their own operation. In fact, Parish Hill’s creamery is across the road from Vermont Shepherd.

Parish Hill buys organic cow’s milk from a nearby dairy and they turn it into amazing cheese.  A unique aspect to Parish Hill is that Peter makes all his own starter cultures. This is fairly rare in the cheesemaking world where most cheesemakers buy their starter cultures from large firms. But not Peter. Rachel jokes that Peter likes to do everything “the hard way.” She points to the fact that he weed eats his fence line with a scythe and not a weedeater.

Reverie is a traditional, semi-hard Tomme, with a bright milky flavor that becomes sharper with age.

Pairings:  Try this beauty with truffles or a pear cider.  We also like it with a brown ale.

Boxcarr Handmade Cheese Campo
Cow’s Milk, North Carolina

Boxcarr's Campo, a Tallegio-style cheese, but cold smoked over pecan wood.

Boxcarr’s Campo, a Tallegio-style cheese, but cold smoked over pecan wood.

Boxcarr Handmade Cheese is another one of our favorties.  The creamery is run by the Genke siblings and their families.  Austin is a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef who spent years in big city high end restaurants. He eventually moved back to North Carolina with his wife Dani to start a 30-acre farm growing vegetables and raising pigs, goats and chickens.

Meanwhile, his sister Samantha spent that decade making cheese in some of North Carolina’s best creameries, including Goat Lady Dairy and Chapel Hill Creamery.   In 2014, with some help from Kickstarter, they joined forces to found Boxcarr Creamery.  Within a year, they were turning out award-winning cheeses.

Their family roots are in Piedmont and Sicily, which inspired them to make Italian-style cheeses with local ingredients, including  Holstein milk from one neighbor and goat milk from another.

This cheese, Campo, means “field” in Italian. It’s the edgy younger sister of one of their other cheeses, Lissome, an earthy washed rind cheese bathed in Piedmontese birra (beer).  If you know Taleggio, this is their version of it, but it has been cold smoked over pecan wood to add a notable smoky maturity to an otherwise young cheese. This is a cheese that tastes like meat in the best possible way!

Drink Pairing: Our go to is a gose.  The slightly sour and salty tang can hang with the intensity of this cheese.

The Salumi
Red Table Meat Company’s Big Chet’s

Red Table Meat's Big Chet

Red Table Meat’s Big Chet

Red Table Meat Co. buys whole pigs from small, sustainable farms in Northeast Minneapolis and turns it into what they call “Good Meat.”  We’d say it’s more like “Great Meat!”

Mike Phillips, the owner, has been working on forming Red Table Meat Co. for perhaps his whole life. Growing up in a small, rural farming community, he worked for farmers, went to school with farmers, heck, he dated the Clay County Pork Queen!

He took that respect for farmers and the animals and turned it into a business that revolves around crafting small-batch, sustainable Italian-style charcuterie from happy pigs.  Their meat is pasture-raised and humanely-treated.

In 2016, the company entered three of their products in the coveted Good Food awards for the first time, hoping to take home one award.  They won for all three!

Big Chet’s is one of those winners.  It’s a Finnochiona-style salami seasoned with black pepper, red pepper, fennel, garlic and white wine, aged three months.  It’s a big pork flavor with a lightly herbaceous finish.  We like it on a charcuterie board or on an Italian sub sandwich.