Cheese. That word makes us quiver and fall to our knees in weakness. Cheese. It’s what’s for dinner, lunch, breakfast, and even snacktime. Cheese. Are you sensing a theme here? Cheese.
But, it’s hard to find someone that knows more about cheese and the art of making it than Carol Lake, owner of Simple Cheesemaking. She made some amazing cheese at Dancing Dog Farm in New Hampshire and held classes, showing people how to make all different kinds of cheeses and homestead products. Some of the classes that she has to offer are Beginner Cheesemaking; Parent & Child Cheesemaking; Simple Soft Cheeses of Italy (mooz, straciatella, bocconcini, and burrata); Simply Mozzarella; Jazz, Cheese & Wine; a Full Day Beginner Workshop; Yogurt, Butter & Kefir; and more.
Although Carol has previously worked at Dancing Dog Farm, she is now in Fairfield County and offers more of a personal service. In other words, if you want a class or want to learn how to make something, she’ll come to you. She has already held a class at Wakeman Town Farm and will hold a class at Farah’s Farm in Wilton soon, too. Her classes just might be the perfect present for the cheeselover in your life or just a great experience. Think of it: pure, handmade cheese that doesn’t have all those preservatives and artificial ingredients in them.
So, we really needed to ask Carol some questions about her favorite kinds of cheese, if it’s really tough to make your own cheese, and if you can really taste the difference in homemade cheese.
People are always asking us what our favorite restaurant is, so we figure we’ll ask you what your favorite cheese is:
Well, to be truthful, it varies. Even though that might sound like a cop out, it’s not! You see, each season, and every year brings new tastes to the table, though there are always old favorites. I will admit, as a former farmstead cheesemaker, I do have a bias for farmstead cheeses (a farmstead cheese is made on site, from the farm’s own herd). Also, sometimes it’s difficult to source artisan farmstead cheeses from other parts of the county, so I try to focus on the more locally produced cheeses. So, for cow’s milk cheeses, VT’s Farms For City Kids Foundation/Spring Brook Farm, Tarantaise. It’s tart, tangy, crumbly and full of flavor. For goat’s milk cheese, it’s Cypress Grove Chevre’s classic Humboldt Fog, and for sheep’s milk, smooth, creamy Roquefort style Ewe’s Blue, from NY’s Old Chatham Sheepherding Company.
Cheese seems so amazingly complex with deep and rich layers of flavor, so we’ve got to imagine that it’s not that easy to make. Do you think making cheese is something that we could all handle?
Well, there is an art and a science to making artisan soft cheeses. I never want to take away from the sweat, tears and hard work of any cheesemaker. That said, can you make your own simple fresh cheeses at home? You bet, easy peasy. And you probably have most of the ingredients and equipment you need. Go read the ingredients of most of your store bought ricotta, paneer, cottage cheese and cream cheese. Most of the big names include ingredients you can’t pronounce, may never have heard of, and certainly wouldn’t want to feed to your family. Simple cheeses take 15 minutes to make, and if you have fresh milk, unpasteurized and non-homogenized, all the better.
When we go out to restaurants, you can really taste the difference in a meal that is made with fresh ingredients. Do you feel like you can taste the difference in homemade and artisan cheeses in comparison to factory produced, big batch cheeses?
You bet your bottom dollar. Cheese is simply a reflection of the milk that was used to create it. Americans haven’t had the opportunity to refine our taste buds; we’ve always had pasteurized, homogenized milk. It tastes the same from Maine to California, so our cheese has always tasted the same too. How many of us grew up having raw milk cheeses in the house? Probably not many. In Europe, it’s a different story. The provenance of a cheese is important to its appearance, texture, taste and smell. It’s referred to as its “terroir.” I’m hoping more and more of us here in the states will have the opportunity to appreciate and seek out the subtle differences in taste that local milk confers to cheese. The only way to do that is to get out there and demand more supply from our local dairy farms!
Do you have more plans for demos at fairs, festivals, and events?
Yes! I would love to demonstrate at local fairs and events. As I am new to the area, I’d love to get some ideas about where to set up. Any thoughts from readers would be very much appreciated!