Every fall, I love heading over to Greensgrow, an urban farm a few blocks from my house. Not only do they carry apples and honey from the ‘hood, they offer a fridge full of local cheese. And right now, this cooler holds some gems. You’re looking at me with Alex Smith, my go-to dairy grrrl up here in Philly’s Fishtown neighborhood. She’s leaving Greensgrow this week to become cheese maven at another local destination (Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market), but before she leaves I want to pay some homage.
Alex has done a lot of dairy sleuthing in the last year, along with her camarade Geoff, and together they are sourcing some of the best cheeses from the area. Here are some favorites:
Full Nettle Jack
From Cherry Grove Farm in New Jersey, this gentle jack cheese gets a liberal toss of local nettles (dried) before it hits the aging cave to ripen for 60 days. This is a raw milk cheese with a pickly (not prickly) kick — you should eat it on toast with pickle spears. Melted on a sandwich with sliced tomatoes, it’s divine.
From Peach Bottom, PA, this glorious raw-milk cheese from Hillacres Pride tastes like a mushroomy Cheddar. Set it out on a cheese board with sliced apples or whole cloves of roasted garlic, then break out the brown bread and IPA.
Wholesome Dairy Ricotta
I love the fluffy curds of this local ricotta. It’s made by the same dairy that supplies Capogiro, our local gelato company. All you need for breakfast is a bowl of this Wholesome Dairy goodness, topped with honey and roasted almonds and some fresh figs. You can also spread it on toast with jam.
Recently, I put together a mostly local cheese board for a friend who moved to the neighborhood. I was happy that I could bring him a housewarming cheese board so he could sample some Philly-area terroir (don’t think about that too hard) and I was excited to introduce him to this local urban farm. I told him about Greensgrow’s upcoming winter CSA, which is how I get great milk and cheese in the cold months.
If you live in Philadelphia, and you’ve never paid Greensgrow a visit, now is a swell time. The farm is taking orders for Thanksgiving (turkey, soup, pies, sides, and Franklin Fountain Ice Cream), and the Saturday market is always flush with fall fruit, hardy greens, local bread, and of course cheese. Local vendors sell everything from pierogies to coffee beans, and you can wander through the nursery and stick your nose up at Milkshake, the pig.
Yes, a real urban pig.
If you want to get your hands dirty, check out the calendar. My close friend Marisa McClellan over at Foodinjars.com is teaching a pickling class at Greensgrow tomorrow, and there’s a workshop about making sauerkraut and mead on October 27, 2012. And of course you know what kraut and mead pair well with?! Washed-rind cheese.
Special thanks to the blog Chocolate Covered Memories for inspiring this post — the local cheese board (pictured above) was included in an interview with Yours Truly last week. Huzzah!