Adventures in cheese-making
Happy Friday everyone! Maggie Meyer here, Senior Food Editor with a recent culinary adventure that’s just too fun not to share.
Recently, my fiancé Justin and I traveled to the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay for one of their California Epicurean Weekends. We spent the weekend enjoying incredible meals (full of stellar local California ingredients), sipping wine in adirondack chairs while taking in the beautiful California coastline, and gobbling up gourmet s’mores around the resorts’ many outdoor fire pits.
Not too shabby, eh? But as it turns out the most magical moments of the weekend came when our itinerary took us on a little adventure to a goat farm. Yes, a goat farm. But not just any goat farm. Harley Farms, located in nearby Pescadara, is a 1910 restored dairy farm that grew unexpectedly from six pet goats to a heard of 200—the source of award-winning cheeses (the chevre is one of the loveliest I’ve ever tasted!).
We started our morning out in the pasture with the goats (and a few llamas like our gal Ruby, with Justin below). We became fast friends. The animals were quite outgoing, coming up and rubbing their heads around our waists I’d like to think it was because they loved us so much…I also think they might have just been using us as a way to itch their heads.
We then trekked into the dairy barn where we had a chance to milk a goat (which I did!) and learn about the process the goats and the milk goes through. I was so impressed by the respect the people at Harley Farms have for their goats, and the care they take throughout each step of the cheese-making cycle.
Now that we’d milked the goats, it was time to make some cheese. We donned our hairnets (always a good look) and learned from the owner, Dee Harley, the process the milk goes through to become cheese. She also explained how they vary that process to create their distinctly different cheeses (chevre, feta, ricotta, and fromage blanc).
Finally, we got to get our hands dirty and “make” our own chevre to take home by adding edible flowers to adorn the cheese. Love this beautiful detail—and what a great gift idea! I definitely intend to replicate at home! Here’s all you need to do:
1. Line a muffin tin cup with a square of plastic wrap.
2. Carefully place edible flower petals in whatever pattern you choose on the bottom of the lined muffin cup.
3. Using a soft cheese (such as Harley Farms chevre!), roll some into a little ball and press into the lined muffin cup on top of the flowers (you want to start by filling the cup about halfway.
4. Sprinkle over seasoning or herbs (we used Herbs de Provence—so aromatic!)
5. Roll another little ball and press on top (the cheese should now fill the muffin cup)
6. Pull the plastic wrap up and around to cover the cheese and seal it with a cute label or tape.
7. Share your tasty (and lovely!) creation.
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