Last year July, I was in Woodstock, NY enjoying some peace and love via the hippie scene. This July I ended up going to Woodstock, VT to enjoy the cheese and cream scene. There are about 8 more Woodstocks here in the States, even one in Illinois…so we’ll see what next July brings. Woodstock, VT is about one of the most quaintest places on earth. Not a Starbucks in sight or bill board alerting you to the nearest Golden Arches. Even the cell towers are designed to look like pine trees. The farmers are some of the nicest people I’ve met and even the local general store clerk offered to give me a ride into town so I didn’t have to walk the mile. (which was the whole point, but nice none the less).
Covered bridges & homemade ice cream…what wasn’t there to love? This trip was about food for sure. And you can’t be in a place with that kind of food without sharing it with friends and family. My favorite VT saying found on a bumper sticker said, “What The Mind Doesn’t Understand, It Either Worships or Fears.” People in Vermont seem to get it! They respect the environment and truly live off the land as it should be. Local mom and pop stores abound and not a sign of corporate America in sight.
I went to two local farms to see how cheese was really made. First up was Blue Ledge Farm. This is a goat farm that has around 110 goats. They have about 7 different types of goat cheese and one of the best I tried was mixed with Vermont Maple syrup. It only stays fresh for a few days so you have to get it there to try it. The owners have built a cave under ground and do the molding and selling of the cheeses inside. Hannah and Greg, the owners were such nice people; really taking the time to show the farm and talk about the different types of cheeses. A few goats had escaped from the fenced in yard, so literally as we pulled in, it was an up close encounter of the cheese we were about to experience. You can see they really love making cheese by the quality that is put into the finished product. Both went to Italy to learn about cheese making and ended up hearing about the farm for sale at a church function. A blue ledge runs under the farm, hence the name.
Next up was Orb Weaver. These two ladies have been making cheese for 31 years. They make two cheeses- waxed or aged from their 7 cows which all have been named. Marjorie went through the step by step process on how she makes the cheese and walked us into the cave she had built to do the aging. The way a cheese is aged is really fascinating. The mold growth at different levels was something I had never seen before. Large wire racks housed aged cheese from a few months to almost a year old. Large vertical hairy mold grew off the orbs like zaps of lighting had hit each one. It gives you a new appreciation for aged cheese. Orb Weaver’s cheese stays in the cave for at least a 1 year before it is sold. As Marjorie took a stiff bristled brush and removed the mold from the orb to be purchased, all I could think about was that this is the real deal here. Cows in the back, cheese in the cave…it was really farm to table or should I say farm to cooler.
I got to meet Allison Hooper from Vermont Creamery at a book signing in town. Her cheese is on a whole nother level. It is worth every pretty penny you will spend on it. Buy her book, eat her cheese and butter. Enough said! Seriously, THE BEST!!
Five years ago I hiked the Camino Santiago. It is a 500 hundred mile walk, staring in the Pyrenees right over the French boarder and ending in Santiago Spain. A few years later I had heard about the Appalachian Trail that was trying to get started in Florida. Currently it runs from Georgia and goes into Canada. It’s about 2100 hundred miles long and runs right through Woodstock, VT. So of course I had to go check it out. Coming off the trail was a teacher who had decided to do 350 miles of it over her summer break. Got the 411 on what a typical day or month looks like out on the trail. I later met up with her again as she was chowing down at the local store. You only eat what you can carry and local stores seem to be quite the find. And lucky for her, a real gem was a 1/4 mile in town from the trail head.
Vermont will hold so many happy memories for me. It was the perfect getaway and a chance to see what the term “farm to table” really meant. It is a small state of roughly 600,000 people, all seeming to do their part to be at one with nature and the earth. I look forward to getting back there another day and feasting on all the delicious bounty it has to offer.