By Emerald Atkins
Spring comes to C’ville, bringing dandelions, violets, dogwoods… and chèvre cheese.
Really good chèvre.
It’s “snuggle season” at Caromont Farm, the Albemarle dairy where families (or anybody who wants to) can come to love on a baby goat. The farm’s owner, Chef Gail Hobbes-Page, hosts these delightful weekend afternoons in spring, and, while these ticketed events are rapidly becoming a tradition, there’s another spring event to love: the annual advent of the cheese making season.
Right now, that means the soon-to-be-available chèvre, a goats’ milk cheese that has been produced on-site since 2007.
Caromont Farm is located in the heart of Virginia’s Monticello Wine Region. As it’s a farmstead dairy – meaning that the goats are housed & raised on the same property where the cheese is made – the fresh milk only journeys a few hundred feet on it way to the dairy to become cheese. The result is vibrantly fresh product that exemplifies the terroir, or flavor, unique to our region.
On Caromont’s website, the chèvre is described as creamy & lactic, made with vegetarian rennet. (Rennet is the enzyme that causes milk to coagulate into cheese.)
“This fresh, lactic chèvre is slowly cultured and allowed to coagulate overnight, creating a mild and extremely mild texture,” says the farm website. “The next day the curds are drained by gravity, lightly salted, and sold immediately. Our fresh chèvre was the first cheese produced on the farm in 2007. Expressing clean and mild notes, it soon earned critical and popular acclaim, and today remains a bestseller.”
At Local Food Hub, Caromont’s chèvre is a sure-fire sign that spring has sprung. It can be easy to forget, in a world where grocery stores carry a vast range of cheeses, year-round, that cheese too, is seasonal. And just like tomatoes, strawberries, and salad greens, you can taste the difference.
The benefits of local extend well beyond superior-tasting cheese, however.
In addition to giving farm visitors the chance to snuggle with baby goats, Chef Gail and her team also offer artisan cheese making classes throughout the year, along with two June sessions of the Field-to-Fork Day Camp for children aged eight to twelve.
“Educating and embracing our community is important to us,” said Chef Gail. “We strive to be a place where our local community can come together and learn about real food and farming.”
What a wonderful way to celebrate spring!
If you’re interested in trying any of Caromont’s cheeses, retail locations are detailed on Caromont’s website here.