New to the Cave: Cheeses from Spring Brook Farm in Reading, Vermont

If there is one thing beyond quality and flavor that influence our cheese buying decisions, it would be the people that make cheese happen.  We love sourcing great foods from good folks.  And of all of the good folks in the cheese world that have wrapped flavor, quality, and “good vibes” into a neat little bundle, the team at Spring Brook Farm would rate pretty high on the list.

Since 1994 Spring Brook Farm has been home to the Farms for City Kids Foundation, in those years it has brought 10,000+ inner city kids between the ages of 8 and 12 to their beautiful farm in Reading Vermont for a week of hands on learning, free of charge. “In our thousand-acre classroom‚ reading‚ writing‚ math‚ social studies and environmental study skills are applied to hands-on farming tasks. Through group-structured tasks—such as learning to care for farm animals—students discover untapped character strengths‚ develop critical teamwork skills and strengthen core values such as hard work‚ leadership‚ respect‚ self-confidence and responsibility. Students are challenged to overcome fears‚ accomplish feats they never imagined and are empowered by our Farm staff to achieve success every day.”

Cheese is still a relative newcomer to the scene at Spring Brook Farm.  In 2003, former blacksmith Jeremy Stephenson began his love affair with traditional alpine cheeses while living abroad in Europe for a year with his family.  Upon their return, he began making cheese with the neighboring Thistle Hill Farm.  He was brought on as the cheese program director for the Farms for City Kids Foundation in 2008, and resumed making the Tarentaise after John Putnam from Thistle Hill licensed the name to Spring Brook Farm in order to keep up with demand.

Already home to acres of lush pasture and a herd of 100 registered jersey cows, it wasn’t log before Jeremy and his team were producing award winning cheese.  In 2009, Spring Brook Farm’s Tarentaise won first place at the annual American Cheese Society conference for Farmstead Cheeses aged over 60 days.  It has gone on to win many other awards including the coveted “Best in Show” award at the 2014 ACS conference.  In 2010 Reading Raclette (pronounced: Red-ding) was added to the docket.  Both cheeses are made exclusively with raw milk from their 40 milking cows, and are made using traditional copper vats to cook the curds, as is the case with many traditional European alpine cheeses.  All profits from their cheese sales go towards the Farms for City Kids Foundation.

Spring Brook Farm Tarentaise

  • Country of Origin: U.S.A
  • State: Vermont
  • Milk Type: Unpasteurized (Raw) Jersey Cow Milk
  • Style: Farmstead Firm, Alpine, Washed Rind, aged a minimum of 6 months.
  • Size: 16-20 lb wheels
  • Availability: Year round

Tarentaise is a firm alpine cheese similar to French alpine cheeses like Abondance, Comte and Beaufort.  John Putnam named the cheese after the Tarentaise Valley in France where the eponymous cows graze in the French Alps.  Tarentaise the cheese is easily recognized by its concave rind that imitates that of its French cousin Abondance.  Spring Brook Farm’s version of Tarentaise is intensely buttery and sweet in aroma, and is toothy and crystalline in texture, finishing with big notes of pineapple and warm spices.  This is the kind of cheese makes you want to sit  and taste in silent appreciation as the world passes you by.

Spring Brook Farm Reading Raclette

  • Country of Origin: U.S.A
  • State: Vermont
  • Milk Type: Unpasteurized (Raw) Jersey Cow Milk
  • Style: Farmstead, Semi-firm, Alpine, Washed Rind, Aged between 3-5 months
  • Size: 16-20 lb wheels
  • Availability: Year round

Behold the holy grail of melting cheeses.  Spring Brook Farm’s Reading is the closest thing we’ve found to a true Swiss Raclette, and it’s a darn good imitation.  Raclette (the dish not the cheese) is going to be to 2016 what Fancy Toast was to 2015, so make sure you jump on the bandwagon early.  Melt it over roasted fingerling potatoes alongside charcuterie and a few snappy cornichons, you can thank us later.

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