Name That Cow or Goat Cheese!
At the Creamery, we are pretty proud to tell our guests that we make all of our cow’s milk cheeses with milk from Calder Dairy in Carleton, MI. One of the reasons we like Calder so much as our local source for cows‚ milk, is that all of the cows there are named. How does a cow with a name produce milk that makes a better cheese, you might ask? When the Creamery went searching for a good milk source in its early days, we met with many dairies who referred to their cows only as producers, very business-like and to-the-point, not a bad thing, necessarily. But then we talked to Calder, who immediately surprised us by dismissing the industry lingo and using the cows‚ names when referring to them. To us, this showed the level of attention to and knowledge of the individual animals we were looking for. We decided that a named cow was a good sign of a loved cow, or at least a cow who, in terms of health, diet, and living environment, was more likely well cared for.
At the goat farm where I worked in west Michigan, the farmer gave all the kids born each year (the doelings, at least) names that started with the same letter, to keep track of their ages. She went alphabetically year by year, and the summer I came the letter of the year was H. They were Hedy, Hexa, Heidi, Helga, Hannah, Hazel, Haley, and Helene, and we adored those babies. Hexa was strong as an ox, Helene, the tiniest, a bit timid like a wobbly kitten- we got to know each of them as they went from complete dependence on their mothers to being bottle fed to learning to drink on their own to eating grass and grain. That’s the kind of care we were looking for when we found Calder.
As it turns out, names of cheeses are significant, too. Most cheeses were (and still often are) traditionally given the name of the region in which they were made, so that the flavor of the cheese represents the flavor of the place it was named for. At the Creamery we‚ve continued that tradition with most of our cheeses, including the Manchester, the Detroit Street Brick, the Ypsi, and, one of my favorites, the Bridgewater (a double cream cow’s milk cheese studded with black pepper and covered in a white bloomy rind- really nice on thin, crisp crackers or crumbled over salad). What this means is that when you taste these cheeses, you are tasting milk flavored by grasses eaten by animals in a Michigan field. To taste a cheese is to know, in a new way, the place it comes from. And it’s an especially enjoyable experience when it comes from the milk of a named, loved Calder Dairy cow.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you all at The Cheese Shop!