It’s been a while since I made the weekly trip north to Chicago to deliver cheese. In fact, the last time I delivered cheese, I was wearing my winter coat. Chicago deliveries are usually Wes’ domain, but he’s away in Portland Oregon this week (visiting family and attending the American Cheese Society’s Annual Conference). There’s an art to loading the van with coolers and 25# chevre buckets so that orders are accessible in the order in which they are delivered. Given that most stops are made in haste, with hazard lights flashing in no parking (at any time) lanes, the ability to grab and go is imperative.
The drive north on interstate 57 is monotonal monoculture until you get to the Kankakee River. Corn or soybean fields blanket either side of the highway; the open vistas are punctuated with the occasional decomposing barn or corn crib, memorials to a bygone agriculture. Road construction is rampant. Someone in state government must have a brother in the orange barrel business based on their prevalence. Once you cross the wide and deep Kankakee River, industrialization and suburbanization set in; Illinois Central railroad parallels the interstate, reminding those who notice that rail was once the predominant mode of transportation (not cars or trucks).
As I-57 ends and merges into the “Dan Ryan” expressway, the metropolis panorama of Chicago’s skyscrapers reveals itself and the city driver instincts in me come alive. There is no room for timidity on the city streets. Changing lanes at a moments notice requires assertion. Pulling into and out of tight spots, double parking, ignoring city buses bearing down on your van’s backside-all must be done without hesitation.
The city is hot. The city is congested. The obvious tourists have returned (they are the only ones wearing shorts and walking the sidewalks in large groups) and the fellow delivery vehicles show no courtesy or mercy. One of my restaurant deliveries requires traveling down a really narrow dirty alley reminiscent of street in a Dickens novel. There is irony (and revulsion) at delivering food along a pathway congested with dumpsters. As I make my way around the city, there’s a sense of accomplishment; empty buckets, coolers with ice packs and a few treats to keep me awake for the journey home. In my youth, I was a creature of the city. In my older years, I relish turning into the driveway of our farm where Blue the dog is there to greet me with a giant piece of wood in his mouth.
Happenings this Weekend at the Farm and Beyond
FARM STORE SPECIAL THIS WEEKEND: Weekend Wine & Cheese Flight
We have some unusual and amazing wines in our little farm store, and we want to show them off to you. This weekend’s flight features two crisp whites and a light red wine from different regions of the world. La Frontiere Sauvignon Blanc hails from the Willamette Valley of Oregon. It is made in a natural style (low sulfur) from grapes grown using organic and biodynamic practices. With a strong mineral character and stone fruit and citrus notes, it will pair beautifully with our fresh chevre with herbs de Provence. Next up is an Austrian wine-Wieninger Wiener Gemischter Satz 2019. This complex, dry white contains many different regional grape varieties harvested at the same time. It’s citrusy, but also has herbal notes and hints of tropical fruits. We’re pairing this stunner with our little bloom on the prairie. We complete the flight with an amazing red wine from from Italy—Pico Macario “Villa Della Rosa” (a young Barbera d’Asti). The wild berry and cherry notes and smooth finish from this lighter red contrasts nicely with our “dressed up” feta (olive oil drizzle and fresh herbs). We’ll serve with a rustic baguette bread from Publican Quality Breads in Chicago. $25/person (must be 21 or older) gets you this amazing flight—all weekend long!
No need to reserve; just ask for the flight when you come to the farm store.
Book your reservations now for a very special cheese tasting event on Labor Day Weekend. We are super excited to welcome author and cheese lover Erika Kubick to the farm on Sunday, Sept. 4th from 5:30-7 pm. Join us for a transcendent “Cheese Church” service with author and cheese preacher Erika Kubick, in celebration of her book Cheese Sex Death: A Bible for the Cheese Obsessed! She’ll start off the class with a “sermon” on the basics of cheese worship before leading us through a tasting featuring 5 of our cheeses, each paired with an artisan accompaniment. After the class, you'll have the chance to shop at our farm store or pick up a copy of Erika’s book.
Tickets are $40, plus $5 for charcuterie. Beverages and gelato are available for purchase on site. Feel free to arrive early and play with the goats before class!
Farm Open Hours
This weekend (and all weekends through the end of the year) we’re open 11-5 both Saturday and Sunday. Shop our farm store and sample some of our award-winning cheeses. The weather is looking fantastic for an outing to the farm.
Enjoy a cheese and charcuterie board under our pavilion with a bottle of organic and/or biodynamic wine or local microbrew. Want something cool? Try our delicious goat milk gelato or a local fruit-yogurt smoothie! Of course, there is lots of opportunity to engage with the goats—the mommas and the babies LOVE visitors. We will have an interactive pen set up for guests to enjoy their antics up close!
a few scenes from the farm in summer-beautiful blooms, wildlife in unexpected places, verdant cover crops
Specials this weekend: (available BOTH Saturday and Sunday):
-blueberry yogurt smoothies with local blueberries and Grace’s Famous Honey
--special gelato flavors: TBD
The secret ingredient to our amazing cheeses and gelato is our MILK! You too can experience our milk in its purest form! Our milk super fresh (usually less than one day old) and clean. We are permitted to sell raw milk from the farm (Illinois Dept. of Public Health). Curious what it tastes like? We will have samples for you to try-just ask.
RAW MILK SPECIAL CONTINUES THROUGH THE END OF JULY! BUY ONE (EITHER A QUART OR HALF GALLON), GET A SECOND ONE (EITHER SIZE) FOR 25% OFF!! If you’re worried about drinking all that milk in a week or so, have no fear, you can actually freeze it (if you plan to make cheese with it, I wouldn’t recommend freezing it; otherwise, it will be great to drink or make yogurt/kefir when thawed).
If you don’t have time to peruse our farm store, but you need some milk or cheese or accompaniments, you can always order from our online store for pick up at the farm during weekend open hours. Just let us know if you’re picking up on Saturday or Sunday in the “NOTES” section (before checking out).
We’ve also got some great local products, including artisan jams, local honey, preserves and salamis. Check out the gorgeous eggs from fellow AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) certified eggs from Joyful Wren Farm. They are equally beautiful on the inside (bright orange means they are definitely eating grass) as well as the outside. I eat them every day!!
The farm is open on weekends RAIN OR SHINE! We have ample seating inside our farm store if you want to stay and enjoy a cheese & charcuterie board. Our store is AIR-CONDITIONED!
Urbana’s Market at the Square
From 7-12 each Saturday, you can stock up on great produce, meats, eggs and of course PFFC cheeses. Shop the market this Saturday and snag some berries (blueberries, blackberries) AND PEACHES!!! Tomatoes and sweetcorn are definitely on the scene, as well as summer squashes and eggplants—cheese should definitely be on your list, and you can prepare simple dishes with what’s in season alongside our cheeses, especially our chevre and feta. I’m all about grilling lots of veggies and then adorning with either chevre or feta or BOTH!! I’m also about making giant salads that are adorned with chevre or feta. How about lightly grilling a little bloom on the prairie?
PLEASE NOTE: OUR LOCATION AT THE MARKET HAS CHANGED. WE ARE STILL LOCATED ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE MARKET, BUT WE ARE NEXT TO ILLINIOIS WILLOWS (AT THE SOUTH END OF AISLE TWO).
Here's the lineup of cheeses and dairy product you can expect to find in our farm store and at the farmers’ market:
Pelota Roja!!! Our raw goat’s milk “Spanish Style” cheese is back!! First batch of the season made with early spring milk. The flavor is sharp and nutty, the texture is firm, crumbly—perfect for shaving or grating. You can also just slice it and eat it with a big hunk of local salami and smear of local mustard. YUM YUM YUM!! Now that it’s sweetcorn season, try grating and blending with crumbled feta, smoked paprika and salt and slather over grilled sweetcorn. You will never eat corn any other way! 2021 Good Food Award Winner
Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
Mixed milk feta in whey brine-salad season is upon us. Try crumbling feta over grilled buttered sweetcorn with chili powder or smoked paprika (Mexican style)! How about a feta-melon salad---the combination of salt-savory with sweet is irresistible!
Artisan Cottage Cheese: this is NOT your “grocery store” cottage cheese-rich, golden yellow and creamy-stuff some peppers and roast with melty cheese on top (like Pelota Roja!!) or make a pasta salad.
Little bloom on the prairie: Mixed milk camembert style- young this week—put this baby on burger and you’re set! SPECIAL THIS WEEKEND FOR SOME PERFECTLY GOOEY AND RIPE LITTLE BLOOM-BUY 2, TAKE 50% OFF THE SECOND ROUND
Angel Food: mixed milk mini-brie—aging nicely, and perfect for enjoying with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil! Our answer to caprese salad!
Black Goat: All goat ash-ripened bloomy rind; WE HAVE A FEW SUPER RIPE ROUNDS-25% OFF THOSE UNTIL THEY’RE GONE. NEW BATCH IS UP NEXT 2021 NY International Cheese Competition Silver Medal Winner!
Fleur de la Prairie: All goat milk bloomy with dried herbs and edible flowers-very young this week, but delicious 2021 Good Food Award Winner
Goat milk Yogurt (quart and pints sizes)
Raw goat milk (half gallons or quarts)-farm store only
We will send some of our local fruit-goat milk yogurt smoothies to the market this weekend. Keep an eye out for those.
Not local? No problem. You can order our cheeses and gift boxes from our online store.