So You Want to Work on a Farm?

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Any curd nerd worth her salt has at some point considered trying her hand at professional cheesemaking. If you want to take the next step, check out smalldairy.com, a relatively new website with resources for people starting and growing their own small dairy. One of the newest pages on the site lists internships, apprenticeships and jobs, free of charge. There are only a few listings there now, but I'm sure it will grow. This page also has a pretty funny paragraph on how crazy the life and work of a cheesemaker can be:

Dairy farming and small-scale processing are some of the hardest jobs you can take on. They require physical and emotional strength, perseverance, patience, flexibility, good observational skills, love of and respect for animals and ability to maintain routines. You may be required to stay up all night, get up in the dark or otherwise interrupt your sleep to check on animals or cheese. You may have to work outdoors in all kinds of weather, you might get really dirty or even splattered with manure. If you work at a creamery you may be required to interact with the public. For some reason, people do it anyway. The benefits and rewards of dairy farming keep many people going in spite of the hardships.

Pennsylvania Wine and Cheese

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For those of you in the Northeast U.S. who are interested in supporting the local wine and cheese industries, the Pennsylvania-based Berks County Wine Trail is hosting an Artisan Wine and Cheese Pairing fundraiser on October 13th and 14th.

Ticket-holders will be able to sample, at each winery’s tasting room, a broad spectrum of the award-winning wines that hallmark Berks County’s wine community; plus, experience first hand, locally made cheese -- crafted by area cheesemakers.

Immerse Yourself in Cheese

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I like to troll the Internets for interesting looking cheese classes, and two in particular jumped out at me recently. This fall, Artisanal and Murray's are both offering intensive educational experiences that cater to the serious enthusiast (a.k.a. curd nerd) and to the food professional.

Murray's class, called Cheese U, is an intenstive six-week course designed to give attendees a well-rounded education in all things cheese. The class starts with an introduction and orientation, and continues with a detailed look at the different types of milk used to make cheese, the history and geography of this great food, followed by a look at cheesemaking, affinage (the art of aging cheese) and beverage pairing. The course is pricey at $795, but in addition to the classes themselves you get a "required reading list," take home assignments, a final exam and a Certificate of Achievement upon completion.

Artisanal's Master Class: Intensive Class for Professionals is largely geared towards food professionals (and comes with a correspondingly high price tag at $1200), but promises to spend a full 2 1/2 days covering "the entire world of cheese, from milk types to cheesemaking, affinage to appreciation, placing an emphasis on service, selection, and proper care of cheeses for the foodservice professional." With instructors like Max McCalman and Daphne Zepos, this class should prove to be truly enlightening.

Video of Vermont's Peaked Mountain Farms on CNN

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Today on CNN.com there's a short but interesting video piece about retired real estate agent Bob Works and the sheep farm he runs, Peaked Mountain Farms. Peaked Mountain Farms is in Townsend, VT, and is one of the farms that makes Vermont Shepherd cheese.

Blogging Cheesemakers

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It's old hat to see blogs by cheese mongers, or other dairy heads, but I have yet to see many blogs from cheese makers themselves. After all, making cheese is so time-consuming, what cheese maker in his or her right mind would choose to spend the little free time they had on blogging? Well there are a couple of new blogs to report on that signal perhaps a new trend, both are from cheese makers who are in the trenches working hard to make the cheeses you and I love to eat.

The first is from LittleFfarm Dairy, a start-up artisan goat cheese maker in South West Wales, UK. Their blog is a daily journal, tracking their progress as they start the business with a herd of pedigree British Toggenburg goats. I don't know how these folks have the time to raise goats, make cheese, AND blog, but I'm glad they do, because the blog really adds a personal dimension to their operation that you don't get with too many other dairies.

Recipe: Pears with Herbed Ricotta and Honey

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts Wednesday night this week. Many Jewish holidays have associations with certain foods, and on Rosh Hashanah it is typical to see honey consumed in many different ways, all in celebration of the coming a sweet new year. And in my opinion, the best way to eat honey is alongside some creamy, curdy ricotta cheese. Below is a great, seasonal recipe from the September 2005 issue of Gourmet Magazine that features honey, ricotta, and pears. And please, do yourself a favor and get some really rich ricotta, like this sheep's milk version made by Dancing Ewe Farm.

Probiotic Cheese Introduced in Italy


In one of the hottest trends in dairy right now, companies in Europe and the U.S. are moving to create innovative products that contain added probiotic cultures, microorganisms thought to confer health benefits when ingested in adequate amounts. In January 2006, Dannon introduced Activia, a yogurt supplemented with live Bifidus Regularis bacteria, to the American market. And with each passing month it seems more and more companies are hopping on the probiotic bandwagon; Italian cheesemaker Bidino recently announced a new line of cheeses containing probiotic cultures.

Explore New York's Cheese Trail


On September 15 and 16, members of the Upper Hudson Farmstead & Artisanal Cheesemakers are opening their operations to the public, giving people a chance to meet the cheesemakers and watch them as they craft some of the best farmstead cheeses in America. Visitors will also be able to meet the beautiful sheep, goats and cows that make all the precious raw milk for the cheeses.

New Kosher Cheese Offerings


The Kosher Blog tells us about two new kosher-certified cheeses on the market, an exciting development in a category that has long been woefully slim. The first offering is an Organic cheddar from New Zealand-based Mainland Cheese. It's made with milk from grass-fed cows and features the OK kosher certification. The other is a group of raw milk cheeses from 5 Spoke Creamery, including Red Vine Colby, Redmond Cheddar, and Herbal Jack. The cheeses are made in Pennsylvania by Amish farmer Henry Lapp and certified kosher by Kof-K.

Recipe: Baked Stuffed Tomatoes With Goat Cheese Fondue


Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times

This recipe, which combines fresh goat cheese and mascarpone in a fondue-like melt, was part of a larger article about summer tomatoes in the Dining & Wine section of today's New York Times. It looks really easy and potentially very delicious. Leave a comment below if you decide to try it!

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