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phaelon56

Central and upstate NY cheeses

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I attended the Ithaca Farmer's Market this weekend for the first time in years. I was totally blown away by the quality and variety of organic, artisinal and unusual foodstuffs. Really healthy seedlings were available in abundance among other things. I brought home a Black prince heirloom tomato plant, orange citrus thyme seedling, thai basil, thai hot pepper plant and others. I'll return there in a few weeks and will file a complete photo report - it was truly amazing.

The biggest surprise for me was specialty cheese. NY state has long been a major dairy producer (probably third or fourth nationally in terms of milk poundage and cheese production). Some of the better consumer grade cheeses sold in my area include Colosse and Heluva Good from the Sodus NY (Lake Ontario) area. A variety of cheddars including some good extra extra sharp have always been available along with the usual suspects like the softer farmer's cheese, Monterey Jack, string cheese, cheese curds etc.

We even have a few producers such as Cuba Cheese (southern tier southwest of Rochester) that produce outstanding extra long aged cheddars (e.g. 5X which is aged for five years or more) that stand head to head with the best that Cabot can offer (IMHO the Cuba cheese is better but I digress).

Among the producers selling at the Ithaca Farmer's Market is

Northland Sheep Dairy

Located in Marathon NY, about 30 minutes north of Binghamton, they're in the middle of maple syrup country (the annual maple festival is held in the village of Marathon). The web site is worth a look - the farmers are using a variety of organic and holistic practices with an additional focus on education and energy efficient practices. More significant is that they're producing some cheeses that are not traditonal for this area - to me it's a harbinger of good things to come.

Docsconz has mentioned the burgeoning artisnal cheese industry that is flourishing in Quebec - perhaps we'll see such a development in NY state - one can only hope. I'm sure there are other quality cheese producers in NY state now producing things other than the mainstream "grocery store cheeses". Who is your favorite and what do they offer?

There were three sheep's milk cheeses available - the folies bergere that I purchased, a second bergere variety that was a bit more pungent and a third variety labeled as "pepperino". The latter was akin to a peccorino in texture and reminiscent in flavor. Also quite intriguing as I'd never heard of such a thing was the "cheddar bleu". It has a hard texture that's akin to but a bit softer than a parmigiano regianno. The mold is marbled throughout but less throughly than in gorgonzola and far less so than in a Stilton but that's a good thing. The tanginess and bite of the mold is subtle enough to allow the cheddar flavor to shine through, yet the bite of the cheddar itself is much softer and far more subtle than conventional cheddar.

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No Bergere Bleu?

For three years when my wife ran a small company in Ithaca while I worked in Philadelphia, I looked forward to our weekend visits for many reasons. Among the reasons relevant to discussion here: Northland's cheeses, particularly the Bergere Bleu. I miss it, since they don't distribute their cheese other than directly by the farm to the consumer. Impossible to find in Philadelphia, though they will do mail order.

Try their cheese with some of the antique apples Ithaca Farmers Market vendors will sell in the fall, or the local table grapes.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Good thread, Owen.

Artisanal cheesemaking is growing in this (NE) part of the state and is certainly flourishing in Vermont. Nettle Meadow from Warrensburgh, N.Y. makes some outstanding organic goat cheeses. They have developed a name for themselves.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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No Bergere Bleu?

We didn't arrive at the market until 10:30 AM or so - it's conceivable that they may have been out of it by then but there was definitely none on display. I look forward to the "antique" apples but I'll be surprised if anything offered can exceed the phenomenal Macoun. It's a shame that Macoun's have such a short season. I've also found that not all Macoun's (like so many foodstuffs) are created equal. I've tried some that Wegman's grocery was selling and they didn't come close to the crunch and flavor of those from the local orchards just south of Syracuse (Wegman's gets theirs from some farms either in the Hudson Valley or west of Syracuse but none of those places can duplicate the terroir of the Lafayette Valley - it's a superb applegrowing area).

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No Bergere Bleu?

...but I'll be surprised if anything offered can exceed the phenomenal Macoun.

The Macouns will be there, in their short season. And I agree, they are an exceptional apple. But please withhold judgement until you try Cox Orange Pippin(my favorite). Since variety is the spice of live, I consume whatever antiques I can find. At the Ithaca Farmer's Market, in addition to Macouns and Cox Orange Pippins (the favorite eating apple in the UK) you can obtain, in their season: Arkansas Black, Caville Blanc d'Hiver, Banana, Fameuse, various Russets, and Margil, among others, as well as some modern but relatively rare crosses. Taste them all!

You might also want to stop by the Cornell Orchard retail store, which frequently has some interesting modern crosses.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Gouda with real bacon bits in it will always be my favorite.

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If you like the macoun (my entire family is obsessed with them...) you might also want to try the honeycrisp. It's very macoun-like (I believe macouns are one of the parent strains) but quite a bit bigger, and we've found that the quality doesn't seem to vary as much. That is, while I've come across some really bad macouns over the years, there doesn't seem to be as much of a low end for the honeycrisps, possibly because they're so new.


I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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It's way east of Ithaca, but another great artisianal cheesemaker from Upstate NY is the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. I've enjoyed their Mutton Button at an upscale restaurant in Chicago (Tru).

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Old Chatham is indeed excellent as is Coach Farms.

I'm starting to see anumber of smaller operations showing up at local farmer's markets, although I hope to see even more.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Thanks for your report on the Ithaca market - I'm crazy about that place. I'd love to be able to move to that area if there were only some work in my field... It is always good to hear about more people starting to reclaim the agricultural heritage of the area by producing artisanal products like the ones you describe. The economy is horrible upstate and maybe this is one route back. The proliferation of small wineries and grape growers has been a real boon to the economy of Finger Lakes counties like Yates and Cayuga.

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Yeah - it really is wonderful. It's also now open four or five days a week during the summer with varying hours. The Syracuse market is bigger but has lots of regular commercial produce mixed in with the local vendors. The Ithaca market was chock full of people who are involved with the CSA movement and utilizing organic and energy efficient farming methods. I think the short growing season and the relatively small scale of such farmers may allow for little impact on the big picture of the failing economy in this area but it's still encouraging. I worked in Ithaca from 1991 to 1995 as a Cornell wage slave and left for the same reason you can't move there - I couldn't make a decent living.

Thanks to all for the tips on other artisinal cheesemakers in NY state - I'll try ot check them out when time permits.

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Also when in Ithaca, go to the Green Star food coop. You don't have to be a member to shop there, and you will find a dozen or more cheeses from the area. I bought a very good, raw goat's milk cheddar that was comparable to Chevre Noir from Tournevant in Quebec, except it was $7.50 per pound, not $22.

Ah how I miss Ithaca.

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Good thread, Owen.

Artisanal cheesemaking is growing in this (NE) part of the state and is certainly flourishing in Vermont. Nettle Meadow from Warrensburgh, N.Y. makes some outstanding organic goat cheeses. They have developed a name for themselves.

I recently had a soft goat cheese from Nettle Meadow called "Kurnik" that is just amazing.

Also, 3 Corner Field farm, so justly known for their incredible lamb is getting into the Sheep's Milk Cheese business. They make some great feta and yoghurt. I have also had some superb hard cheeses made by others from their milk. They have plans to do fresh ricotta as well as the other cheeses. I am very much looking forward to that.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Let's not forget the wonderful cheeses of Bobolink Dairy, on the border of NJ and NY. Their approach to farming is admirable, as are their cheeses and breads. Above all, we are having our eGullet Pig Roast there this weekend!

Check them out at www.cowsoutside.com.


"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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Bobolink's cheeses are incredible - their cheddar is my favorite. I guess it is close enough to New York to qualify for this thread :laugh::cool::wink:


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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It's way east of Ithaca, but another great artisanal cheesemaker from Upstate NY is the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company.  I've enjoyed their Mutton Button at an upscale restaurant in Chicago (Tru).

Old Chatham Sheerherding Company will be hosting one of the Outstanding in the Field farm dinners and tours, the day after OitF does a farm dinner in Seneca Lake. The guest chef for that dinner is Sean O'Brien, from Willow of Ithaca restaurant. (Host farm in Seneca Lake is Blue Heron.)

The guest chef at Old Chatham, in the Berkshires, is Bryce Whittlesey of The Wheatleigh.

Details about both dinners can be found at the link above.

I should be attending both, and am very much looking forward to my return to New York.


Edited by tanabutler (log)

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Old Chatham Sheerherding Company will be hosting one of the Outstanding in the Field farm dinners and tours, the day after OitF does a farm dinner in Seneca Lake. The guest chef for that dinner is Sean O'Brien, from Willow of Ithaca restaurant. (Host farm in Seneca Lake is Blue Heron.)

The guest chef at Old Chatham, in the Berkshires, is Bryce Whittlesey of The Wheatleigh.

Details about both dinners can be found at the link above.

I should be attending both, and am very much looking forward to my return to New York.

Timing is everything in life and mine this time is bad as I will be in Spain. I am bummed as that would have been a lot of fun and not too far from where I live. Old Chatham uses milk from my favorite sheep dairy farm - 3 Corner Field farm.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Timing is everything in life and mine this time is bad as I will be in Spain. I am bummed as that would have been a lot of fun and not too far from where I live. Old Chatham uses milk from my favorite sheep dairy farm - 3 Corner Field farm.

Okay, that does it. I'll skip New York and am going to Spain. Can I carry your bags?

(May I just say that my longing to go to San Sebastián has eclipsed all other destinations on my travel agenda? I have been traveling the world virtually, looking at restaurant web sites...two from the northern coast of Spain are just stunning. I'm smitten. Don't tell Italy.)

Interesting that Old Chatham uses milk from another farm. I am learning the difference between farmstead (also known as "farmhouse") cheese and otherwise.

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I was interested in attending one of those dinners but was a bit disappointed in the lack of response from them regarding a question I had. I'm not inclined to pay for wine pairings because I'm a non-drinker. Their phone number has a standard outgoing message and suggest contacting them through the web site. I emailed regarding the possibility of attending the dinner at a pro-rated price without wine but never received a response. If it's just something they don't do I'm cool with that but replies are always appreciated.....

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