So, it was an absolutely beautiful day to take a detour from that slab of asphalt we call I-90 to visit one of our farmstead, artisanal cheese makers.
I’m sure I took one or two wrong turns along the way to Pine Plains, which made it seem all the more removed from “civilization.” On the other hand, though, I love exploring the Hudson Valley so perhaps there are no wrong turns here.
I eventually arrived at Chase Road in search of Chaseholm Farm. I instantly got the sense that the Chase family had been in this place and working this land for generations.
It was a long and winding road lined with big, old maple trees dotted with a farm house, barns, lots of pastureland. There’s a tractor out in the distance working a field.
I pull up to the Farm store and I’m greeted by a friendly mutt and one of the dairywomen named Dana. She directs me back down the road to meet Rory at another complex of barns and sheds. This is where the cheese is actually made.
Rory greets me; he’s very friendly and gracious (I am, after all, a few hours behind schedule!) He gives me a tour of his cheese making operations. It’s small, for sure, but quite pristine as cheese making is part craft and part science.
By the time I arrive the equipment is being cleaned and sanitized. I meet Anthony who Rory informs is graduating from high school next weekend. And then we enter the aging rooms where the real magic happens!
Again, not rows upon rows of mass production but carefully handmade creations. Our tour ends up in the packing room where two women are wrapping, labeling and preparing product for shipment.
Now we drive back up to the Farm Store where I first met Dana because this is also where the milking of the cows happens. We meet “the girls,” Holsteins, Jerseys, and a few Swiss Brown cows. They are all named, Fiona, Dali, Sue, etc …
And as we watch Dana go about the business of taking the milk, you get the sense that they all have their own distinct personalities and that there is a real relationship between the animals and the dairywomen as they go through their daily ritual.
We finally met Rory’s sister Sarah on our way out—she was the one driving the tractor out in the distance. So we met her out in the field and she described what is was like to take her father’s herd and the family land and turn it into the raw material for her and her brother’s operation.
It was quite wonderful to see this brother and sister team maintain the family’s agricultural legacy and to produce something that is pretty darned tasty too!
Wait until you try the Red Beard, a washed rind cheese bathed in hard cider and finished with apple brandy …. YUM!
Look for artisanal cheeses from Chaseholm Farm in our cheese case this summer! (And be sure to say “Hi!” to Chris)