I love cheese. Smoked, soft, stinky, aged, especially sharp — I love it all. Imagine my excitement &when Lyn promised to drive us to Vermont for a day on the cheese trail! So last weekend, Lyn and I woke up awfully early for a Saturday for a full day of driving and dairy touring in Vermont. So leaving the dawn and Boston behind, we were off to the land of cheese!
Vermont is cloyingly large, so we were only going to make it to a select few dairies on this trip. Lyn planned our route for the upper mid region of the state. 3 hours, gorgeous mountain views, skier sightings, and a scary few minutes when the tires were stuck in the snow later, we arrived at the motherland of Vermont cheese: Cabot Creamery!
Cabot makes one of my favorite cheeses in the whole world: Seriously Sharp cheddar. I'm obsessed with it and a 1lb block does not last very long in my fridge. Needless to say, I was thrilled to see how my favorite cheese is made. But first, we had a little history. Cabot is a dairy coop founded in 1919 by 94 families that has now grown to over 1,200 farms. The video showed how much pride the farmers take in their cheese — as they should; it's DELICIOUS! We actually got to see the employees making cheese. The machine above is mixing the curds and an employee was walking the line salting them. Cool! Then we shopped. This was our first stop so we tried not to go overboard (I didn't by the 5lb box of Seriously Sharp). But we tasted all the flavors and varieties, and I took home the clothbound cheddar — hard and aged, it grates like parmesan!
We said goodbye to Cabot and headed due west, to Shelburne Farms.
Although it's January, you could tell how beautiful Shelburne Farms is. Acres of farm, woods, walking trails, and an inn on the shores of Lake Champlain, we definitely need to take a trip back in the spring to explore properly! Instead we just popped into the Welcome Center, sampled some tasty treats, purchased some goodies, and were on our way. See you when the weather is nicer, Shelburne!
So they don't make cheese, but they do make my other favorite dairy product: ICE CREAM. Yes, I'm talking about Ben & Jerry's, the Mecca of frozen deliciousness. Cheese & ice cream? This was shaping up to be one of the best days of my life.
The factory tour was full of punny humor (lots of awesome cow jokes), we tasted Cherry Garcia, and Lyn bought a pint of her coveted Chubby Hubby. We checked out the Flavor Graveyard, where the dearly departed flavors rest. I'm sad I never got to try Holy Cannoli.
A bit up the road from Ben & Jerry's is another Cabot store, so we thought we'd check it out. We also found Lake Champlain Chocolates, J.K. Adams Kitchen Store, and a Snow Farm Vineyards tasting! Is that not the best shopping plaza ever? Lyn & I both went home with the Snow Farms Rose Red, a very juicy, Sangria-like blend of Leon Millot, Baco Noir and Catawba. YUM!
We cannot live on dairy alone, so here are our milk-free meals of the day. Lyn stopped for gas, and this food truck was a fantastic, meaty oasis. VT BBQ is some amazing barbecue. This truck had a smoker on the back! Their homemade rubs and sauces were delicious — smoky and sweet with a little spice. Definitely check out the truck if you're ever near Randolph!
But back to the cheese trail. Our last stop was Fat Toad Farm, and we almost didn't make it. When Lyn suggested the cheese tour, Fat Toad Farm was a must-stop. I'd fallen head over heels in love with their amazing goat cheese caramel at the first Eat Boutique Local Market back in October, and that's actually where Lyn picked up the cheese trail map. Well, it was getting dark and our unexpected wine tasting stop set us out to beat the clock to Fat Toad. We had a few GPS mix-ups, and when we made it to the farm, the lights were out. Bummed, we got out to look around at least, and Lyn noticed a sign on the shop door to call to be let in. Soon, Steve & Judith popped out to let us loose in their store. In addition to tasting the famous caramel, the chèvre spreads were fantastic! Lyn & I both took home the maple and olive lovers varieties! Thanks, Fat Toad! Next time, we'll be back in daylight hours to see the goats!
Want to see our hauls?
I took home:
It was a long, tiring, sun-up to sun-down, amazing, tasty, fun, & exciting day. And I can't wait to do it again!
Have you visited a dairy farm? What's your favorite cheese?