The wonders of cyberspace allow me to write this week's newsletter from Montreal Quebec Canada. I am attending the annual American Cheese Society Conference. It's the first time it is being held in Canada, and getting all of the 1700 cheeses across the US-Canada border for the cheese competition was quite a feat. Late last week, our cheeses were shipped to a warehouse in upstate New York and then caravanned in refrigerated trucks to their final destination in Montreal. They will announce the winners Friday evening, so keep all of your body parts crossed for our cheeses.
The opening session of the conference was given by a Quebec Agronomist who spoke about the meaning of "terroire" in the New World. For those of you not familiar with the concept of terroire, it embodies the link of food products, particularly wines and cheeses, to specific regions in Europe. It also implies very distinct histories and traditions of how these products must be produced--specific varietals of grapes grown on specific soil types, specific breeds of dairy animals eating very specific kinds of vegetation and their milk collected at certain times of the year to make specific kinds of cheeses. So, the question is how do you create "terroire" in the "new world" (aka north and south america) when the history is so short in comparison to the old world and the cheese traditions are loosely based on those of immigrants from the old world. The Quebec agronomist presented a series of three examples where several regions and farm families are creating their own unique cheeses, keeping dairy farming alive and reinvigorating a breed of dairy cattle "La Vache Canadienne" whose genetics have french origins, but were modified by the early settlers in Quebec in the early 1600s. The stories were fascinating and inspiring in their message of renewal and reinvigoration of small-scale artisanal cheese production and its impact on rural economic development.
The stories made me think about how we can define terroire in our little neck of the woods--the prairies of central Illinois. I believe that our rich black soils are the foundation for our diverse pastures and our luscious alfalfa hay. Does that count as terroire? Our cheese washes made from pear leaf tea and fruit jams and eaus de vie--don't they impart a connection of land to cheese so essential for terroire? Is it legitimate for us to claim terroire in our cheeses if we feed our goats forage grown out their back barn door? Do our Nubian-La Mancha crosses represent a feeble attempt to create dairy goat characteristics that might be better suited for the kinds of cheeses we want to produce on our land?
And what is our little creamery's contribution to reinvigorating food traditions in a region not known for more than large-scale cash grain agriculture production? The thing I really like about this idea of "terroire in the new world" is that you don't have to cling to specific and ancient traditions--you can tie your products to the land and the region and it is valid. It's the face to a place mindset.
What we're bringing to the farmers' markets this Saturday
In my absence of course, we are attending three farmers' markets this Saturday, August 6th: Urbana, Bloomington and Oak Park. I am not completely sure of the cheese lineup (as I forgot to consult with my trusted cheesemakers before leaving for Montreal), but I will take a guess here:
Fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper AND heirloom tomato
Angel Food--gooey is the operative word here
Little Bloom on the Prairie--our spin on an old world tradition of camembert
Ewe Bloom-lovely delicate white rinded sheep milk deliciousness
Black Sheep-lovely ash-covered white rinded sheep milk deliciousness
Red Dawn-smoked paprika dusted goat disc--perfect for a burger
Krotovina--half sheep-half goat with the two halves separated by an ash layer
Moonglo--slightly tangy but nutty, raw goat milk tomme (this is a real terroire cheese --raw milk AND washed with tea from Moonglow pear leaves!)
Roxanne-a raw sheep milk brebis with distinct buttery and grassy notes
Urbana Market goers can enjoy cool and creamy gelato and sorbetto this Saturday as well. We should have:
Lastly, don't forget to come out and visit us on Tuesday afternoons from 3-7PM. We will be serving our gelato from our new italian dipping cabinet (hopefully)!! No more single servings out of pint containers!!! Of course, there will be plenty of cheese and veggies from Blue Moon Farm. Stay tuned for details next Monday. In the meantime, enjoy the bounty that Central Illinois has to offer you! Vive le terroire en Illinois!!
- Sicilian Pistacchio
- Blueberry-Lemon Verbena
- Blueberry straight up
Blue Moon Farm will be here from 3-5PM only with tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, Kale, Chard, Parsley, Cilantro, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Peppers, Garlic, and Onions.
For those of you interested in UPick, we are re-evaluating whether or not we'll have enough peaches and blackberries available for UPick this year. Our crop is not as plentiful as we thought, the blackberries are very slow to ripen, AND we're using a lot more of our own fruit in the gelato. Stay tuned; however. If we decide to offer UPick, it will probably be for one week only.
The tomatoes are coming in by the basket full every few days now, and that means it's drying time AND time for our heirloom dried tomato chevre. These lovely little roma type tomatoes, called Juliette, are perfect for drying. They're packed with rich tomato flavor. We have used them in our tomato chevre for the past couple of years, and it's a marriage made in food heaven. We've been busy drying Juliettes this week so we can offer you some first of the season tomato chevre.
This Saturday, July 30th, we'll be attending three farmers' markets: Urbana, Chicago's Green City Market and Oak Park. We have a plethora of bloomy rind cheeses (the white molds have been working overtime these past few weeks) for you along with the chevre. Here's the cheese lineup:
- Fresh chevre--just plain and heirloom tomato this week (so we can be sure to have plenty of tomato chevre on hand--we know a lot of you have been asking and waiting patiently for this chevre to be ready)
- Fresh sheep milk ricotta--think drizzled honey and fresh berries... YUM!!!
- Angel Food--if you love the gooeyness, you'll want to grab up some of these cheeses
- Little Bloom on the Prairie-what can I say?? It's really good, so you should take some home with you this Saturday
- Ewe Bloom-both the small rounds and the triangles will be available
- Red Dawn-the smoked paprika disc of barbeque deliciousness
- Black Sheep--both the "adult" size as well as the "baby" version
The heat and the fruit have inspired the gelatieri (that's gelato makers in Italian, aka: Wes and Stewart) this week. Urbana market goers can choose from:
Lily's Luscious Chocolate (named after one of our customers and one of dark chocolate-colored goats)
Margot's Fresh Mint
Blueberry Lemon Verbena Sorbetto
Peach Sorbetto (limited quantity)
Yellow Plum Sorbetto (very limited quantity-experimental)
Stay tuned for details about next Tuesday's on farm sales. We'll be here with cheese and gelato from 3-7PM (and maybe some peaches!!!) and Blue Moon Farm will be here from 3-5PM with there organic vegetables. We may be starting UPICK this coming week too, but we'll let everyone know on Monday. Also, for those of you who have been asking about dinners and reservations, we will be adding five more events for the fall. I will be posting the event descriptions and reservation spots in early August, so stay posted. Make peace with the heat--eat some cheese and savor some gelato!
- Honey Chevre
- Blueberry-Lemon Verbena Sorbetto
- Peach Sorbetto (made with the very first of our mouth-watering organic peaches)
Blue Moon Farm will be here FROM 3-5PM ONLY (SO GET HERE EARLY) with plenty of salad mix, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes and much much more.
Pekara Bakehouse may be here as well with their breads and cookies.
We hope to see you here!
Stay tuned for U-Pick hours for NEXT week--the peaches and blackberries are just starting to ripen this week.
"Millie Cheese" (photo by Ben Jarrell--yes, that is Wes' son)
I could talk about the heat and all that stress associated with heat, but I know everyone is hot and miserable, so I will spare you. We are doing our best to keep the goats comfortable with plenty of cool water and fresh forage. The fans are blowing a mile a minute inside the barns. Tomatoes love this heat, and they are ripening a lot faster than last year. In fact, we harvested our first round of Juliette tomatoes (those wonderfully rich mini-romas) which we dried so we can start making our heirloom tomato chevre next week. The bright side of the heat is that everyone NEEDS to eat gelato. We have reinforced our stocks this week so we have plenty for our Urbana Farmers' Market goers.
We're attending three markets this Saturday, JULY 23RD: Urbana, Bloomington and Oak Park.
We have a fantastic lineup of cheeses for you:
- Plenty of cool and creamy fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
- Angel Food ---goat milk brie
- Little Bloom on the Prairie--goat milk camembert
- Ewe Bloom
- Baby Black Sheep
- Roxanne--making its 2011 debut--a raw sheep milk Pyrennes style of cheese, semi-hard and slightly sweet-grassy flavor
- Huckleberry Blue-our spring milk blue--stocks are dwindling, so come and get it before it's gone--think burgers with blue cheese or crumble it on a salad
- MILLIE CHEESE--our delicate log of deliciousness
- Simply Vanilla
- Luscious Chocolate
- Strawberry (the last of the season)
- Tart Summer Cherry
- Black Raspberry
- Hazelnut (Nocciola)
- Pistachio Siciliano
- Essence of Chocolate Mint
- Honey Lavender
STATUS OF FRUIT AND ON FARM SALES NEXT TUESDAY JULY 26TH
Many of you have been asking about our peaches and blackberries, and I am happy to report that our peaches are very close to being ready for picking. We will let everyone know next week when we will start up our U-Pick season again. We may even have some to harvest for our Tuesday Farm Sale. Don't forget: It's 3-7PM every Tuesday. Blue Moon Farm will be here with veggies, we'll have our cheeses and gelato and some of our own veggies. Pekara Bakehouse might be here if the weather isn't too hot. See you then.
Want to hide from the heat?? Come out to the farm today from 3-7PM and plant yourself between our beanstalks to cool off. If that doesn't do it, come cool off with some freshly made goat milk gelato or sorbetto. We'll have vanilla, creme fraiche, chocolate, strawberry, tart cherry, black raspberry, hazelnut and pistachio AS WELL AS cool melon sorbetto.
We also have some wonderful savory cheeses to accompany all those veggies you'll be able to buy from BLUE MOON FARM. They'll be here from 3-5PM ONLY with salad mix, cucumbers and plenty of tomatoes (among other veggies).
If those aren't reasons enough, there's always the draw of goats. See you here.
On to the farmers' markets. We're attending THREE markets this Saturday, July 16th: Urbana, Green City Market and Oak Park. We've got plenty of wonderful cheeses for you:
- Fresh Chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
- Angel Food
- Little Bloom on the Prairie
- Black Sheep
- Moonglo-yes, it's back and we will have plenty for you
- Mollisol Pecorino
For Urbana Market goers, our gelato offerings are sure to keep you cool:
- Strawberry-Rhubarb sorbetto
Don't forget to come out and visit us on Tuesday afternoons from 3-7PM. It may be hot, but what better way to cool off than to savor some gelato or sorbetto while visiting the goats.
We know it's truly summer when we taste the Moonglo and decide that it is ripe enough for sale. This is the weekend. We'll be attending three farmers' markets on Saturday, July 9th: Urbana, Bloomington and Oak Park, and we cut several wheels of this firm and tangy cheese for you to enjoy. It tastes great with a tart jam (how about making some jam with all the local raspberries or cherries that are beginning to appear at the farmers' markets?) and some crusty bread.
We've got lots of other cheeses for our market goers this Saturday as well:
- plenty of fresh chevre
- Angel Food
- Smoked Angel Food--it's back--the applewood smoked brie style cheese
- Little Bloom on the Prairie
- Ewe Bloom
- BABY ewe bloom (bite sized rounds perfect for topping a salad)
- Black Sheep
- BABY black sheep (same deal as baby ewe bloom--you can eat it almost in one bite)
- Huckleberry Blue--our raw goat milk blue, supply is limited so enjoy it while it lasts
- Mollisol Pecorino--our raw sheep milk grating style cheese
We have LOTS of gelato and sorbetto for the Urbana Farmers' Market goers--lots of new fruit flavors to try. Wes and Stewart got a little carried away with their "experiments" this week. We've all taste tested them (of course), and they're all really delicious.
TUESDAY ON FARM SALE NEWS
Things are really picking up with our Tuesday afternoon mini-farmers' market-open house (3 to 7PM). This coming Tuesday, July 12th, we'll have plenty of cheese and gelato for you as well as Pekara Bakehouse goodies. Blue Moon Farm's bounty is flourishing, so they've resumed their pre-ordering system to ensure that they pick just the right amount of fresh produce for this mid-week market. They plan to be at our farm only from 3-5PM, so please come early if you want veggies. To access their ordering system, go to:
They will also bring extra of the following:
This fourth of july weekend promises to cook up our typical hot and steamy Midwestern summer, so we're loading up the coolers for the farmers' market with cheese. We often associate fourth of july with meat and grills, but what better way to accompany those steaks or burgers or chicken thighs than with some gooey bloomy rind cheese or slathering on some fresh chevre on the bun.
This Saturday, July 2nd, we're attending THREE farmers' markets: Urbana, Oak Park and Chicago's Green City Market. We've got a great line up of cheeses:
- Fresh chevre--the usual suspects of plain, herbs de Provence and cracked peppercorn
- Fresh sheep milk ricotta--it's so fresh and light--how about drizzling it with some local honey and topping it with some fresh berries??
- Sheep milk feta--now's the time to get some of those early hot house tomatoes& cukes and make a beautiful greek salad with our rich feta
- Angel Food--nice and gooey
- Little Bloom on the Prairie-dense, creamy and would be great lightly grilled along side those burgers---try topping it with some caramelized onions or onion jam!
- Ewe Bloom--we have our triangles as well as the little baby baba blooms--perfect for a crostini appetizer
- Black Sheep-also in "baby" size as well as our regular rounds--gotta love the ash
- Huckleberry Blue-our very piquant (if you love blue cheese, you'll get your money's worth with this one) raw goat milk blue--also great on a burger (notice a theme here??)
For our Urbana Farmers' Market customers, we've got a great lineup:
- Simply Vanilla
- Luscious Chocolate
- Nocciola (Hazelnut)
- Sicilian Pistacchio
- Honey Chevre
- Local Strawberry
- Strawberry-Rhubarb Sorbetto
Tuesday Farm Sales-Open House
Thanks to those of you have ventured out to our on-farm sale on Tuesday afternoons. We continue to grow each week in customers and diversity of offerings. This coming Tuesday, July 5th, we'll have our very own cheeses and gelato (and probably soem things out of our garden). We'll also welcome back Pekara Bakehouse with their artisan breads, cookies and pastries. Blue Moon Farm will be here as well. They are reinstating their pre-ordering system so they can make sure to bring the right amount of produce. To place your order by Monday, July 4th, please go to their order form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/J38SQ7G or Order Form
Lastly, we'll have a very special guest farmer, a maple syrup maker from Ohio called "Sticky Pete's." Here's some information about how they sell their maple syrup and their farm. This is a one time offer, so come out and get some great maple syrup:
"The sizes I sell at the market are 8oz-$7.50, 12oz-$9.50, 16oz-$13.00 and I may be able to bring some quarts, but not sure. I also have some fancy leaf bottles large, medium and small which make terrific gifts, they range in size from 8.45oz, 3.5oz and 1.7oz and are more pricey because of the bottles. Sticky Petes is a 1500 tap sugarbush situated in southeastern Ohio in the foothills of the Appalachians. Began in 1996 by John Berry and Laura McManus and their faithful dog Pete. Our label is a tribute to Pete who carefully watched over the process, from gathering sap in the woods in early spring, to boiling in the sugarhouse, to bottling our delicious golden amber on its way to the market. Our syrup is handcrafted and we are committed to making your day naturally sweeter!"